Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has posted the following statement on his LinkedIn page:

Take out your smartphone – if you’re like most people, it’s never more than a few feet away – and tell me what you see. A phone, yes. But also a bank. A credit card. A filing cabinet holding medical records, tax returns, personal correspondence, social security numbers. Maybe a home security system or keys to your house. Apps that reflect what you watch, what you read, who you talk to, what you think.

All of that, in a miraculous device you carry in your pocket or your bag, 24×7.

Now let’s widen that lens.

I just returned from the Mobile World Congress, held this past week in Barcelona. It’s the annual gathering of the world’s mobile telecom industry. This year’s theme was “Everything is Mobile” – and when you walk the floor, you see how that’s the perfect statement about the future of society. Not only will that smartphone you’re holding be your access to the world, mobile devices will be tools for performing remote surgery, learning from professors halfway around the world, controlling autonomous cars, maintaining jet engines while they’re in flight, controlling the power and water grids … the list goes on and on. Securing your personal information and the safety of these critical infrastructure elements will be paramount to the successful integration and operation of our society. Indiscriminate access to any of those systems could wreak havoc on our society and put millions of lives at risk.

That’s why any decisions made about access to those systems need to be considered carefully. Should one government be given access to your personal information or the operations of connected infrastructure? If we say “yes” to one government, how about others? If governments have access, how can we be confident that those with bad intentions can’t use those same systems to gain access through hacking? And just because a company happens to be headquartered in the U.S., should it be subject to different rules when the communications infrastructure is global in nature?

All these questions and more deserve careful consideration in order to keep us safe, which is why all of us have a stake in the outcome of the current dispute between Apple and the FBI. Without taking sides on the Apple case specifically, let me be clear where Verizon stands on the issue of privacy.

We are committed to protecting customer privacy. One of the tools for doing that is encryption. We support the availability of strong encryption with no “back doors” that would enable government access to private information, which we believe would degrade security and privacy for millions of users.

Having said that, we believe the Apple case presents unique policy issues that, in our view, should be addressed by the U.S. Congress. In particular, there may be legitimate reasons for preventing the destruction of data, such as the investigation of terrorism and serious crimes. These conditions must be strictly defined by law, not arrived at haphazardly on an ad hoc or case-by-case basis, as in the Apple case. However, we oppose any solution that would place direct technical access in the hands of law enforcement; rather, it’s vital that such tools remain in the hands of the provider, not government authorities.

As I said, questions about privacy and security in a mobile world go far beyond any one case, and having one judge in one region of the U.S. set this precedent could result in unintended consequences. We should all demand that our elected representatives all the way to the top become involved in debating and coming to a conclusion around these issues.

That’s what leadership entails. Then it will be up to all of us to comply with the processes laid out and the intentions of the law, no matter what part of the Internet ecosystem we belong to.

Billions of customers around the world have opted for the unprecedented convenience and control that having a smartphone gives them, and with the growth of the Internet of Things we’re about to see connectivity permeate our lives even more deeply. In return for living more and more of their lives online, users demand that the private information they keep on these powerful devices remain just that – private. This is a delicate balancing act. But I believe that, as a nation, we can balance that sacred trust with the equally compelling need to keep our society secure in dangerous times.

Via Lowell McAdam’s LinkedIn page.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, Congress, not the courts — legislation, not judicial decrees — should decide this issue.

SEE ALSO:
House Judiciary Committee members consider legal brief in support of Apple vs. U.S. government – March 1, 2016
Apple will tell Congress that strong encryption protects against terrorists – March 1, 2016
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on Apple vs. FBI: Very scary when your government wants to know more about you – February 24, 2016
Apple CEO Cook decried Obama’s ‘lack of leadership’ on encryption during a closed-door meeting last month – February 29, 2016
Apple’s top lawyer: U.S. government order weakens security for all iPhones – February 29, 2016
Apple CEO Cook decried Obama’s ‘lack of leadership’ on encryption during a closed-door meeting last month – February 29, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook can probably defy the US government all he wants and not go to jail – February 29, 2016
Apple CEO Cook picks up where Snowden left off in privacy debate – February 29, 2016
Obama administration set to expand sharing of data that N.S.A. intercepts – February 28, 2016
If Apple loses, your home could be the next thing that’s unlocked: Access to your security cameras would be just a judge order away – February 28, 2016
The Apple vs. FBI fight is about something more basic than software and laws – February 28, 2016
Apple privacy battle with Washington looms as watershed moment – February 26, 2016
Apple’s lawyer: If we lose, it will lead to a ‘police state’ – February 26, 2016
Apple: The law already exists that protects us from U.S. government demands to hack iPhone – February 26, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]