“If we get into a situation in which the technologies do not allow us at all to track somebody that we’re confident is a terrorist,” Obama said, “that’s a problem.”
What shape that access takes, however, is unclear.
“The dialogue that we’re engaged in is designed to make sure that all of us feel confident that if there is an actual threat out there, our law enforcement and our intelligence officers can identify that threat and track that threat at the same time that our governments are not going around phishing into whatever text you might be sending on your smartphone,” Obama said. “And I think that’s something that can be achieved.”
Privacy hawks on Capitol Hill aren’t buying it.
“I don’t think much of that,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), co-founder of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, told The Hill. “We have a huge homeland security apparatus with almost unlimited authority to — with some sort of a reasonable suspicion — check almost any type of communication, whether it’s voice, Internet, telephonic, electronic, you name it.”
“Those were positions that did not receive rave reviews here in Silicon Valley,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), whose district includes parts of tech-heavy San Jose.
Many believe the administration’s stance is inherently at odds with robust digital protection.