The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continued its quest to gain access to encrypted data when FBI director James Comey took to the podium during today’s open session of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, reports Gizmodo.
During the session, Comey pleaded his case that his agency should get “front door” access to encryption technology by having companies give the FBI a solution for accessing messages, files, and other encrypted information. Comey believes there is a way to get such access without compromising the entire system, even though he did not reveal how exactly that might happen.
“Weakening encryption is a lose-lose proposition, which decreases security and privacy. In the wake of recent data breaches, the DOJ should not encourage companies to weaken encryption to provide the government even more access to Americans’ information,” American Civil Liberties Union counsel Neema Singh Guliani told the outlet. “Strong encryption is critical to secure the Internet and protect our information; policies that weaken these technologies diminish cybersecurity, decrease privacy, and threaten the notion of a free and open Internet.”
Regardless, Comey won’t give up on finding a way to access encrypted information without setting the entire system on fire. “I don’t think the great people of America have really put their minds to this,” said Comey. “Maybe it’s impossible. Maybe the scientists are right! But I’m not ready to give up on that.”
In order to prove his point that the FBI needs this access, Comey brought up ISIS’ encrypted messaging, calling it a threat to national security. In addition, he stated how encryption technologies prevented the FBI from investigating how ISIS was bringing Americans into the fold, even though Comey didn’t reveal how many such investigations were thwarted when asked.
This isn’t the first time the FBI painted encryption in a negative light. Last October, Comey lamented how encryption prevented his agency from properly solving crimes, since he argued criminals utilize encrypted messaging services to carry out their crimes. In addition, Comey said that, due to end-to-end encryption becoming a popular practice among big companies such as Apple and Google, lawbreaking will become an easier endeavor.
Fortunately for Comey, he does have allies in Senator John McCain and New York City police commissioner William Bratton, the former of which said that the FBI should ask companies to create a stockpile of encryption keys for the agency. Meanwhile, Bratton revealed his disdain for phone encryption last October, indicating that he too believes it hinders criminal investigations.
From the looks of things, Comey has quite an uphill batte. Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed his company will not give up on iOS encryption, while Google gave encryption default status with Android 5.0 Lollipop.