Carly Fiorina calls on Apple, Google to tear down that cyberwall.

Carly Fiorina Calls on Apple and Google to Tear Down That Cyberwall

Carly Fiorina Calls on Apple and Google to Tear Down That Cyberwall

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 6 2015 6:22 PM

Carly Fiorina Calls on Apple and Google to Tear Down That Cyberwall

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Don’t overthink it.

Photo by Gerard Malie/AFP/Getty Images

Candidates are taking a hard line on cyberhacking in light of the Pentagon attack allegedly carried out by Russians, according to NBC. But some of them don’t quite understand the terms.

When asked during Thursday’s first GOP debate whether Google and Apple should cooperate with the U.S. government to weaken encryption so criminals can't hide behind it, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina answered in the affirmative. “We need to tear down cyberwalls,” she said—a phrase sure to go down in history as resoundingly as Ronald Reagan’s defiant Cold War demand.*

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Fiorina, whose time at HP has been called into question by cybersquatters, added that “we could have detected and repelled some of those cyberattacks” if we had passed “a law [that] has been sitting, languishing, sadly, on Capitol Hill.”

Not to be outdone, Lindsay Graham hopped on the trendy cyberwall bandwagon as well. “If I have to take down a cyberwall I’ll take it down,” he said. He also fretted about the “going dark” problem—the words that FBI Director James Comey has used while advocating for tech companies to build backdoors to encryption into their products.

In the tech community, many maintain that the “backdoors” Graham and Fiorina endorse are unnecessary and would actually threaten users' security.

*Correction, Aug. 6, 2015: This post originally misquoted Carly Fiorina as saying Apple and Google needed to “tear down that cyberwall.” Fiorina said, “We need to tear down cyberwalls.” It also misquoted her as saying "a law has been sitting, languishing in Congress." She said "a law has been sitting, languishing, sadly, on Capitol Hill."

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Rachel E. Gross is the science web editor at Smithsonian.