The US-based Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) warned the US administration, in an open letter, that powers it is seeking would undermine privacy and compromise the security of tech products and services.

The letter is part of an intensifying drive against and FBI request to US Congress to mandate encryption workarounds in mobile devices.

Which way will the US government jump on encryption? Image: IDG News Service
Which way will the US government jump on encryption? Image: IDG News Service

The groups warn that mandating weakening of encryption or workarounds will not prevent serious crime. "Doing so would compromise the security of ICT products and services, rendering them more vulnerable to attacks, and would erode consumers' trust in the products and services they rely on for protecting their information," they said.

Moreover, should the U.S. allow encryption workarounds, this will send a signal to the rest of the world, legitimizing similar efforts by foreign governments, the groups warned.

The newly elected government in Westminster is also preparing surveillance laws calling on tech companies to decrypt messages on demand. In January the Prime Minister had suggested an outright ban on the use of encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and iMessage, in order to combat terrorism and other crimes.

Meanwhile the European Commission is taking a different path. There are no plans to require back doors in communications encryption in Europe, According to Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip.

The Obama administration is still undecided on the matter. Last week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest, said: "This is a very thorny policy challenge, and maybe even among the most difficult challenges that the President faces," adding that his team is working on it and should manage a way through in a way that balances security with civil liberties and privacy.