New group presses U.S. leaders to balance privacy, security

The group includes leaders from major cybersecurity and privacy firms as well as former government officials

A group of privacy and cybersecurity leaders Tuesday launched a new organization, called The Digital Equilibrium Group, that seeks to create a “constitution” for balancing security and privacy interests in the digital world.

In a release, members of the group — which includes former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff — say they want to get past the ongoing political standoff between the privacy and security camps.

“The project aims to address the underlying issues fueling acrimonious debates like the contentious court order between Apple and the U.S. Government,” the group said in a release, referring Apple’s refusal to comply with an order to help extract data from an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. 

The group plans to publish a white paper during the RSA Conference next week that calls on governments, corporations and privacy advocates to find common ground. Members will also hold a panel at the cybersecurity conference to discuss the paper’s findings.


Balancing privacy and security remains a controversial issue in the U.S. According to a recent poll conducted by Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans think Apple should aid the FBI in unlocking the San Bernardino phone, while 38 percent support Apple’s position. 

Former RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello, a member of the Digital Equilibrium Project, who will moderate the RSA panel, said the clash between Apple and the FBI is a symptom a larger problem. 

“The speed of change in technology has far outrun the ability of our current laws, policies and social constructs to keep up,” he said. “We are on a pace to connect another billion people, and a hundred billion devices, to the Internet over the next five-to-ten years, with no national or global constructs for how privacy, crime, nation-state aggression and corporate responsibility will be addressed.”

The forthcoming paper lays out the group’s plans to convene a summit in mid-2016 to begin crafting the digital constitution, which will act as a framework for further discussion on the relationship between privacy and security. Representatives from the Justice Department as well as from Apple and other leading tech firms will be invited to participate, the release says.  

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