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Martin O'Malley: Whether Front Door or Back Door, Government Needs a Warrant

Hillary Clinton applauds meeting between Obama Administration officials and Silicon Valley executives.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was obviously frustrated in his struggles to be heard during Sunday night’s Democratic presidential candidates debate, found a brief moment to shine as an advocate for privacy rights.

Asked during NBC’s televised debate about calls from some in law enforcement for back-door access to encrypted personal devices like cellphones, O’Malley said American citizens shouldn’t forfeit their privacy for security.

“I believe whether it’s a back door or front door, the American principle of law should still hold,” O’Malley said. “That the federal government should have to get a warrant, whether they want to come through your back door or your front door.”

O’Malley joined other Democratic hopefuls in calling for greater collaboration between Silicon Valley and the government to figure out how to secure against threats from violent extremists such as ISIS. At the same time, he said the government needs to develop a body of law to protect the privacy of American citizens in the digital age.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders trumpeted his vote against the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which authorized broadened government surveillance in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist tracks.

But he said Americans also should be concerned about how much private corporations know about their everyday behavior, saying public policy has not caught up with the explosion of technology.

“You would all be amazed — or maybe not — by the amount of information private companies and the government have,” Sanders said. “The websites that you access. The products that you buy. Where you are this very moment.”

Sanders also called on Silicon Valley to help the government combat radical groups like ISIS — without violating the Constitutional privacy right of the American people.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was pleased that senior Obama Administration officials met with top Silicon Valley executives to begin talking about the difficult issues of privacy and national security.

“We need better intelligence cooperation,” Clinton said. “We need to be sure that we’re getting the best intelligence we can from friend and allies throughout the world.”

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