Digital Transformation

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says tech firms 'definitely not above the law' as government regulation row rumbles on


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

March 29, 2017 | 4 min read

Twitter's founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey has conceded that tech companies are "definitely not above the law," but has called for a a "middle ground" as the row over encryption between tech giants and authorities rumbles on.

Jack Dorsey Trump

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says tech companies 'definitely not above the law' as debate about government regulation rumbles on / Jack Dorsey Trump

Dorsey, who was in the UK yesterday (28 March) to launch his payment service Square, gave a host of interviews in which he addressed the ongoing back and forth between Silicon Valley firms and governments.

The debate came to the fore again last week when UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd called for encrypted messaging services, like WhatsApp, to allow law enforcement access following an attack on London's Westminster Bridge.

Speaking to the i newspaper, the Twitter boss said transparency was key in building trust but argued the level of transparency offered by tech players should be reciprocated by governments.

“I think we need to continue to see that sort of transparency in government as well, and then encryption itself is really critical," he told the paper. "Security is not an end point, it’s a constant evolution, and it’s always making sure that we’re building more and more safe opportunities for people.”

He added: “We’re definitely not above the law, because we’re all in local environments that have local laws. But I think it’s the role of not just the tech company, but any organisation to constantly push government and for government to push, and that contrast makes us all better, right?”

Rudd's position on encryption has been criticised by commentators with some saying the politician had a "hazy grasp" of how end-to-end security works as Open Rights Group executive director, Jim Killock, branded Rudd’s words were nothing more than “cheap rhetoric”.

Speaking to Sky News, Dorsey re-iterated his view on the matter saying both parties should reach a "middle ground".

"I think there's an absolute middle ground," he continued. "I think it really has to be measured by the individual and how they're using it.

"As we talk about security, we also need to talk about accountability and about transparency and how things work. At Square, we're very proactive about our outreach to government agencies to make sure that we ensure more safety across the board. And encryption is a really really important part of that," he added.

Last year, in the US, Apple's Tim Cook was reported as having lashed out at White House officials during a disagreement over encryption and granting the government 'backdoor access'.

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