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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Supports Encryption Because 'We Have a Serious Concern About Data Security'

Also: The U.S. invented the Internet and we don't want China to own it, Carter says.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Silicon Valley last week to meet with top technologists and launch a new “innovation advisory board” for the Pentagon led by Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt.

His timing, however, was not ideal: Carter arrived in the midst of a contentious debate over digital privacy and security in which the FBI and Apple may be heading to a Supreme Court showdown. Although he would not address the Apple-FBI feud directly, Carter explained at length why the Department of Defense might actually be closer to Apple’s side on the latest episode of Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher:

“We shouldn’t let any single case drive a general solution to what is a complex set of problems,” he said. “We, the Department of Defense, have a serious concern about data security. Nothing works without our networks.”

Speaking at the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco, where Secretary Carter’s staff had created office space and meeting rooms for his visit, he and Swisher discussed the newly announced innovation committee, the importance of governmental partnerships with the tech sector and why he believes the United States must be proactive about digital rights.

“Russia and China openly defy all the values of freedom of speech, of free and open Internet,” Carter said.” If they write the rules, they won’t be consistent with the values of the United States. … We don’t, at this point, seek to exclude China or prevent China’s rise, but there are certain kinds of behavior by China that are disturbing to us and others in the region.”

He also addressed the rise of ISIL, calling it “the first social media terrorist group,” and why he rarely uses any kind of cellphone.

Listen to or download the episode in the audio and video players above, or click here to subscribe to Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher on iTunes; you can also find Re/code Decode on TuneIn, Stitcher and Clammr.

Arik Hesseldahl will be in Kara’s chair next Monday to talk to Tanium CEO Orion Hindawi. On Thursday, don’t miss Re/code Media with Peter Kafka, our newest podcast. This week, Peter talks to Peter Gould, the co-creator and executive producer of “Better Call Saul.” Click here to subscribe to Re/code Media on iTunes.

You can hear Kara this Friday on Too Embarrassed to Ask, her podcast with Lauren Goode from The Verge. Click here to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes right now. And you should also check out Re/code Replay, an archive of audio content from our events and interviews by Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, Peter Kafka, Ina Fried and more. To subscribe to that, click right here.

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara. You can also suggest guests for the show on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to nab them for a Red Chair interview.

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