Randall-punch-tim-cookAT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is the latest to weigh in on the issue of data encryption policy with the executive telling The Wall Street Journal that Apple CEO Tim Cook and other tech execs should leave the decision making on encryption policy up to Congress:

“I don’t think it is Silicon Valley’s decision to make about whether encryption is the right thing to do. I understand Tim Cook’s decision, but I don’t think it’s his decision to make”… I personally think that this is an issue that should be decided by the American people and Congress, not by companies,”

…The AT&T chief said his own company has been unfairly singled out in the debate over access to data. “It is silliness to say there’s some kind of conspiracy between the U.S. government and AT&T,” he said, adding that the company turns over information only when accompanied by a warrant or court order.

That statement follows a meeting among Cook, other Silicon Valley executives and White House officials last week to discuss topics related to encryption policies and government access to data.

And that’s just the latest occasion in which Apple under Tim Cook’s leadership has voiced its opinion on the issue with the company becoming increasingly vocal about its stance on encryption and sharing user data with others.

But the issue is once again in the spotlight as it becomes a topic of interest during recent presidential debates. Tech companies and government access to data was one focus at the Democratic debate this week, and just days earlier Apple and Tim Cook were mentioned by name during the Republican presidential debate with candidates asked specifically about Cook’s position on keeping user data private from government.

Recent legislation proposed in at least two states — New York and California — looks to ban iPhone sales if Apple won’t compromise on encryption, which shows you just how heated the debate has gotten.

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