“A senior Apple Inc security expert left for a much lower-paying job at the American Civil Liberties Union this week, the latest sign of increasing activity on policy issues by Silicon Valley privacy specialists and other engineers,” Joseph Menn reports for Reuters. “Jon Callas, who led a team of hackers breaking into pre-release Apple products to test their security, started Monday in a two-year role as technology fellow at the ACLU. Prior to his latest stint at Apple, Callas designed an encryption system to protect data on Macs and co-founded communications companies Silent Circle, Blackphone and PGP Corp.”
“Past tech fellows at ACLU joined earlier in their careers, but the ACLU wants seasoned experts. ‘It’s critical for organizations like the ACLU to address the asymmetry of expertise between entities like the National Security Agency and Silicon Valley corporations and those of us who are trying to rein them in,’ [Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project] said,” Menn reports. “Callas’ move comes after a year of unprecedented activism by rank and file engineers at Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc and other technology powerhouses under fire for enabling the spread of misinformation and government-led misdeeds.”
“Callas said phone makers had improved security and he wanted to see progress continue and widen without companies succumbing to pressure to install back doors,” Menn reports. “Famed cryptography author Bruce Schneier encouraged Callas to take the ACLU post. Schneier said he was seeing a broader sense of public obligation, with a hundred applicants for a recent opening at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.”
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