Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday expressed “grave concerns” about how encryption is hampering law enforcement, joining the ranks of Obama administration officials who are trying to make a crucial feature of the Internet seem like something nefarious.
“We are seeing many more people involved in terrorism investigations using peer to peer communications, specifically encrypted communications—communications that are designed to disappear once they are sent,” Lynch said in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference that was otherwise mostly about the indictments of FIFA soccer officials.
She said secure communications technology gives her “grave concerns” about law enforcement’s “ability to have eyes on people whose sworn duty is to harm Americans here and abroad.”
Lynch’s comments put her in lock step with NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers and White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who have asked Congress to crack down on encrypted technologies that have proliferated in the wake of government surveillance disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google are now offering, or will soon offer, encryption by default on their chat and email clients.
The administration’s leading opponent of cryptology, FBI Director James Comey, echoed Lynch’s comments, saying that encryption makes it more difficult for law enforcement officers to monitor Islamic State sympathizers in the U.S.
“I can’t stand here with any high confidence when I confront a world that is increasingly dark to me and tell you that I got it all covered, ” he said, adding that encrypted communications are “unavailable to us even with court orders.”
Comey has described encryption as having nefarious uses, often evoking imagery of plotting terrorists or child porn peddlers when describing how the communications method is used.
But Alison Macrina, the founder of the Library Freedom Project, which focuses on training librarians around the country to utilize encryption tools, told The Intercept that Lynch and Comey were “fearmongering,” and ignoring how vitally important secure communication is to a variety of people not engaged in wrongdoing.
“Strong encryption tools are vital if people are to use the web safely, and the users who rely on encryption are from all walks of life—journalists, students, small business owners, activists and even law enforcement,” Macrina noted.
She added that focusing strictly on bad actors to make a case against encryption is, “like saying you want to ban roads because some people use them to drive drunk—ignoring the majority of people who use them to drive their cars their cars to work, or ride their bikes to school.”
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
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