DES MOINES, Iowa — John Kasich is really not in the mood to speak publicly about technology that affects virtually every American’s privacy.
During Thursday night’s debate, Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly followed up on remarks about encryption the Ohio governor had made in prior debates, including the statement that encryption is a “big problem” that the FBI should have the ability to penetrate. Kasich’s viewpoint directly contradicts that of the majority of cryptographers and tech companies, who argue that it’s impossible to compromise encryption to go after a select group of terrorists without compromising digital security for the entire American public. Kelly smartly asked whether those experts were wrong, and Kasich got coy:
“The joint terrorism task forces need resources, and they need tools, and those are made up of the FBI, state and local law enforcement,” he said. “Megyn, it’s best not to talk anymore about backdoors and encryption. It’ll get solved, it’ll need to be solved in the Situation Room in the White House with the technology folks.”
When Kelly pushed him further, he replied, “I just have to tell you that it’s best [that] some of these things not be said.”
Kasich’s answer is similar to that of Hillary Clinton, who, in the last Democratic debate, on Jan. 17, mentioned that she was “very pleased that leaders of President Obama’s administration went out to Silicon Valley last week and began exactly this conversation about what we can do, consistent with privacy and security.” (Clinton was referring to a secretive meeting earlier this month between top Silicon Valley companies and intelligence officials). When NBC moderator Andrea Mitchell mentioned that those officials were “flatly turned down,” Clinton replied, “That’s not what I’ve heard. … Let me leave it at that.”
It seems that candidates in both parties, aware that there is no clear-cut encryption solution in which they will emerge as terrorist-fighting heroes, would prefer to keep their plans on this vital issue secret.