The head of the US National Security Agency (NSA) has suggested that technology companies should provide "front door" access to their products to aid investigations.
Access to technology, and the associated access to personal information and data, has divided agencies like the NSA and technology companies like Google, Microsoft and many others for years, especially over the subject of encryption.
NSA director Michael Rogers said during a recent speech at Princeton University that the NSA does not want back door access to products but instead proposed a new 'front door' form of data acccess, according to reports in The Washington Post.
"I don't want a back door, I want a front door. And I want the front door to have multiple locks. Big locks," he said.
The allusion to locks suggests that the systems will retain some integrity while also allowing full oversight by the NSA so those who held the necessary 'keys' could be made to 'unlock' the data when requested.
Acting as an overseer would presumably give the agency the right mix of surveillance and information to help tackle the threat of terrorism online and offline.
This is a softer stance that many of his peers are suggesting, as a number of US government officials have called for a wholesale ban on encryption.
Their sentiments have come in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations about government surveillance.
Officials at the UK government, Europol, Interpol and the FBI have all complained about the use of encryption by technology firms.
James Comey, director of the FBI, said that, while he believes that there are "good people" at firms like Apple and Google, they pursue bad ideals such as encryption.
"Both companies are run by good people, responding to what they perceive is a market demand. But the place they are leading us to is one we shouldn't go to without careful thought and debate as a country," he said.
"Encryption isn't just a technical feature; it's a marketing pitch. But it will have very serious consequences for law enforcement and national security agencies at all levels. It's the equivalent of a closet that can't be opened, a safe that can't be cracked."
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