Poll: American voters overwhelmingly want privacy, encryption

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Voters overwhelmingly support encryption and other measures to protect their digital privacy, according to a new poll from ACT | The App Association trade group. 

In the survey, 93 percent of respondents said it’s important that the photos, health data or financial information they store on their phones and apps, or share online, stay secure and private. Nearly the same number (92 percent) said they need “powerful, consumer-focused encryption technology” to make sure their information is secure.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 54 percent of respondents trust tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook more than federal agencies, like the FBI, to protect personal information on their electronic devices. Only 21 percent said the reverse.

The trade group’s poll comes after news that senior lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are circulating a draft bill to compel American tech companies to crack encrypted code if they receive a court order. 

[Read more: Senate bill would force U.S. firms to break encryption]

The proposed legislation tackles the issue that arose earlier this year when FBI tried to force Apple to help the agency break into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. In the end, the FBI was able to find a workaround with the help of a third party, but now it’s pursuing a similar case in New York

“Encryption technology has played an essential role in our lives for decades and that’s exactly why app companies have used it to protect user data,” Morgan Reed, executive director of the trade group. “… As policymakers look for a way forward, they should know that Americans understand that backdoors and other security vulnerabilities should not be part of the equation.”

For the survey, conducted by Purple Insights, researchers interviewed 1,250 registered voters nationwide over the phone last week. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percent.

The industry poll comes after another Pew Research Center released in February that found a slight majority of Americans thought Apple should comply with the FBI’s request. 

Contact the reporter on this story via email Whitney.Wyckoff@fedscoop.com, or follow her on Twitter @whitneywyckoff. Sign up for all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning at 6:00 here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Congress, Cybersecurity, Government IT News, Tech
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