Obama calls for public debate over encryption

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — President Barack Obama says he probably leans more toward strong computer data encryption than many in law enforcement.

But he also says he understands their concerns because of the pressure they're under to keep people safe.

Obama suggests a "public conversation" about the issue, saying people will demand answers the first time there's an attack and authorities can't follow up on a lead because they couldn't access information.

He commented Friday during an interview with technology website Re/code after a White House summit on cybersecurity at Stanford University.

The trend toward strong data encryption follows revelations that the U.S. government was collecting phone records and digital communications of millions of people not suspected of wrongdoing.

Law enforcement officials say encrypted data could hamper criminal investigations. Privacy advocates disagree.