Since the recent attacks in Paris, a debate has begun between Washington and Silicon Valley as to whether encryption and online privacy outweigh national security concerns in the face of terrorist threats. Methods of exploiting terrorist plots are being discussed; for example, giving a 'backdoor' for encryption services and censuring websites/social media. There is also a consideration towards old surveillance tactics as former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, requested to bring back the NSA's metadata surveillance program – a main part of the Patriot Act signed after 9/11 attacks. Parts of this act, however, expired in June.
Support has been given, by a number of Republican presidential candidates, for an increase in government surveillance. Opposing this, Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, is against the NSA's metadata surveillance program and would like to continue to give the public access to encryption if he is elected. Joe Barton has projected his ideas including shutting down websites like social media networks (e.g. Twitter, which is said to host IS related content). CIA Director John Brennan and several other officials proposed a backdoor algorithm which permits encrypted information to be decoded by the government. During a statement, he indirectly blamed Edward Snowden for weakening the ability of the CIA to prevent attacks and hoped that the attacks were a wake-up call. Brennan also stated that, in recent years, it has become harder to expose terrorists due to some policies and legal action.
Edward Snowden has provided advice to the public, including advising them to encrypt phone calls, texts and hard drives to protect them from surveillance, however, numerous notable figures in the tech industry have ridiculed the back door approach to encryption. The founder of Dell, Michael Dell, said the back door idea was "horrible" and that there is a risk of exploitation by hackers. Many other CEOs of top tech companies have also agreed, and are against the idea, due to it being viewed as having dire consequences. Supporting these opinions is the legal director for the digital rights advocacy group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, who said that, "Encryption isn't magic – back doors will be exploited". As French and Belgian authorities continue to track down potential suspects and figure out how these recent attacks were coordinated, the debate regarding encryption continues. France recently passed a powerful surveillance law in May, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and in the near future it is thought that the UK plans to vote on its own surveillance law.