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Data encryption a 'matter of national security': Expert

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, major tech companies should revisit the way they encrypt private data, Pace University's Darren Hayes told CNBC on Tuesday.

Currently, most consumer data is encrypted to prevent outside access to personal information, which can be used with malicious intent, but companies should allow government agencies to access that data when they have a warrant, said Hayes, assistant professor and cyber-security director at Pace University's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Read MoreCalls grow for government back doors to encryption

"The discussion needs to begin with the importance of facilitating law enforcement with investigations," he said. "Apple, for example, can no longer help investigators who have a warrant because the encryption keys are no longer maintained by Apple but reside on the device."

Apple iPhone 5s
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Apple iPhone 5s

Apple uses what's called "end-to-end" encryption. That means messages do not get decrypted until the recipient accesses it on their devices. Messages remain encrypted while in transit between Internet-service providers and other third parties.

It also means Apple cannot turn over the data to authorities since it's only available on individual devices.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has insisted that consumers' information remain encrypted and that his company would not give the government "back door" access to their mobile devices. If governments can access that data, then hackers and other malicious groups might find a way as well, Cook and other privacy advocates say.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.