Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday said he favors broader government surveillance of Americans, calling for private tech firms to cooperate better with federal agencies to “make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst.”
“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and [the National Security Agency] doing its job,” the former Florida governor said. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”
At a national security forum in South Carolina on Tuesday, the presidential hopeful addressed the enforcement officials should have guaranteed access to encrypted customer data at major tech firms.
Bush said encryption “makes it harder for the American government to do its job” and called for “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley” to address what he termed as a “dangerous situation.”
Prominent tech CEOs — such as Apple’s Tim Cook — have argued for strong, universal encryption, in which even the company can’t see customers’ communications. Security experts support such calls, arguing that a guaranteed “back door” weakens worldwide encryption and compromises privacy.
A few other Republican candidates have staked out early positions on cyber security.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also called for “more collaboration … between private sector companies and the public sector” during Fox News’s undercard Republican presidential debate earlier this month.
On Monday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a more tech-friendly stance, calling for a “safe place” for private-sector tech experts to contribute to national cyber security efforts.
“They want to be patriots,” Kasich said. “Sometimes they need a Sacagawea to guide them through the system.”