What the GOP Candidates Said About Silicon Valley During the Debate

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Rand Paul take the stage during the Republican Presidential Debate on Dec.15, 2015 in Las Vegas. PlayRobyn BeckAFP/Getty Images
WATCH GOP Candidates Discuss How Silicon Valley Can Help Fight Terrorism

Ears in Silicon Valley must have been burning during the latest GOP debate.

The government's interaction with some of the world's largest technology companies was a central theme in Tuesday night's debate as candidates discussed whether encryption is making Americans more safe or is a hindrance to pinpointing terrorists.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina called for more cooperation with technology companies. Donald Trump said he doesn't want ISIS "using our Internet" and we can penetrate them if we "use our good people." John Kasich alleged the couple who carried out the San Bernardino attack benefited from encryption.

Google, Apple and a litany of other technology companies have publicly asked the government to stay out of encrypted data in computers and mobile devices -- or risk undermining information security.

Fiorina said as president she could get Silicon Valley to work with the government because she "knows them" and will ask them instead of forcing them. Calling out Twitter, Snapchat and "all the rest of it" that "has only been around a couple years," Fiorina said government policy has not kept up with new technologies.

"They need to be asked to bring the best and brightest and the most recent technology to the table," she said.

Trump, who has said he would consider closing "areas" of the Internet to fight ISIS, also advocated more cooperation with Silicon Valley.

"We should use our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds so ISIS cannot use the Internet," he said. "We should penetrate the Internet and figure out where ISIS is and everything about ISIS and we can do that."

Calling encryption a "major problem," Kasich said "Congress has got to deal with it and so does the president to keep us safe."

In a letter to President Obama earlier this year, Google, Apple, Facebook and dozens of cyber-security experts and trade groups said giving the government the master key to decode encrypted data could leave billions of people vulnerable to cyber criminals and deal a detrimental blow to information security.

Apple last year announced it would turn on encryption for iOS 8 by default, meaning law enforcement would have to have a person's passcode to access any data on an iPhone. Google's Android Lollipop also offers users the chance to opt-in to encrypt their data.