Director Comey Discusses Investigative Challenges in Light of New Methods of Electronic Communication

Director Comey Testifies at a Congressional Hearing on Encryption

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on encryption on March 1, 2016.

FBI Director James Comey, appearing at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on encryption, briefed members on challenges to public safety and national security that have “eroded our ability to obtain electronic information and evidence pursuant to a court order.”

In his prepared statement, Comey called strong encryption “a key tool to secure commerce and trade, safeguard private information, promote free expression and association, and strengthen cyber security” and said that the FBI supports and encourages secure networks to prevent cyber threats to national critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and private data. But he also explained that “the benefits of our increasingly digital lives have been accompanied by new dangers, and we have been forced to consider how criminals and terrorists might use advances in technology to their advantage.”

According to Comey, law enforcement is seeing more and more cases where it believes significant evidence can be found on a phone, tablet, or laptop, and that this evidence that may make the difference on whether the offender is convicted or acquitted. “We must continue the current public debate about how best to ensure that privacy and security can co-exist and reinforce each other, and continue to consider all of the legitimate concerns at play, including ensuring that law enforcement can keep us safe,” said Comey.