- Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is visiting tech companies in Silicon Valley and Seattle this week as part of ongoing efforts to recruit their help in federal cybersecurity efforts.
- Tech companies and the government have been at odds lately, especially as the war between Apple and the FBI has intensified over the last few weeks.
- This is Carter's third visit to the West Coast in less than a year. Both Carter and Attorney general Loretta Lynch will speak at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco.
During his trip, Carter will visit the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, which opened last spring and serves as a Pentagon incubator. He also plans to visit Amazon and Microsoft as part of ongoing effort to appeal for their help in bolstering U.S. cyber defense initiatives.
Last September, federal CIO Tony Scott said much of the tech used by the federal government is too outdated to handle today’s cyber threats and agencies must work with industry partners to modernize government systems and improve security. Other federal government leaders echoed Scott’s plea to private industry to help it improve cybersecurity and prevent incidents such as the recent massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management.
Meanwhile, Apple’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell will make the company’s case before Congress on Tuesday. Sewell submitted his prepared opening statement to the panel on Monday. Among other things, Sewell’s testimony says that although the company has "the utmost respect for law enforcement and share their goal of creating a safer world" weakening iPhone security would "wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety" and "set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens."
Many Silicon Valley companies are backing Apple in the dispute.
"One hand of the government is reaching out to the valley, while another is poking them in the eye," said Peter W. Singer, a fellow at the nonprofit New America Foundation in Washington, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.