Tomorrow morning, the increasingly heated public discourse over encryption and law enforcement access will continue in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. As this debate moves into the post-San Bernardino iPhone phase, we thought it was time to take an in-depth look at public opinion on encryption and data security.

ACT | The App Association commissioned Purple Insights, a world-renowned polling firm, to conduct this benchmark poll. Undeniably, Americans expect the tech industry to increase security protections, not weaken them.

That strong support is fueled by concern about hacking and cybercrime: one in three Americans have been hacked; 87 percent believe someone they don’t trust can gain access to their private information, and 71 percent believe that threats are increasing.

American are also rightfully concerned that “backdoors” advocated by law enforcement would be accessed by bad characters. In fact, nearly 90 percent of voters believe backdoors could be exploited by hackers and criminals, and nine in 10 believe strong encryption keeps their information secure.

This is reflected in the consumer demand for constant improvements in cybersecurity and encryption. Eighty percent want technology companies to continue building stronger safeguards; and Americans trust tech companies 2:1 over the FBI to protect their data.

Today’s poll results were released in conjunction with AppCon, ACT | The App Association’s annual conference on the App Economy. Leading app company CEOs and executives are in Washington April 17-19 to meet with elected officials about the importance of encryption and data security, among other issues. Congressman Blake Farenthold kicked off AppCon today, addressing the importance of encryption and the dangers of government-mandated vulnerabilities.

AppCon attendees echoed Rep. Farenthold’s sentiments.

“Encryption of private data has never been more important as apps in the mHealth, FinTech, and Internet of Things (IoT) space have enhanced our relationship with technology,” said AppCon attendee Marc Fischer, CEO of L.A.’s Dogtown Media. “Americans overwhelmingly support and demand universal encryption standards to protect their private data from criminal hackers, government agencies, and prying eyes. The next battle that private enterprises face will be against those who wish to weaken and circumvent encryption and personal privacy laws.”

Jake Weatherly of Eugene, Oregon’s SheerID agreed, saying, “As technology brings us all unparalleled access to information we need to thrive, it also opens dangerous doors to private data that we do not want to leave vulnerable. U.S. voters are concerned about their personal information being accessed. We as a country need to stand together to protect our private information through universal encryption laws and standards, and we can only do this if we all get on the same page in both the private and public sectors. If we are not able to do that, we are in a losing battle whose victims will ultimately be the American people.”

Encryption technology has played an essential role in our lives for decades and that’s exactly why app companies have used it to protect user data. As policymakers look for a way forward, they should know that Americans understand that backdoors and other security vulnerabilities should not be part of the equation.

Access the full poll here.

Access the polling memo here.


Image: Yuri Samoilov / license / no changes