The trend of encrypting both real-time communication and stored data by the service providers could prevent the government from lawfully pursuing criminals. “Justice may be denied, because of locked phone or an encrypted hard drive”, Corney said in his prepared remarks at the Brookings Institute.
He further explained that under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) from 1994 stated that the telephone companies need to build a wiretapping backdoors into their equipment; however, no such law enforces new communication companies to do the same. CALEA is then expanded to include broadband internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems like Skype in 2004.
Corney further mentioned that they were not seeking a back-door approach, on the contrary, they wanted to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law, including court orders. The spying scandal broke out recently when the former National Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified surveillance documents. Therefore, since that day, the tech titans such as Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook is trying hard to build tighter security feature into their products by using encryptions.
There are also a few incidents whereby FBI investigations lead to false accusations because of the data encryption. However, if the encryption algorithm is weakened, it would make the device more prone to cyber-criminal attacks.
Google declined to comment specifically on Corney’s statements however, the technology company voices out its support for encryption whereas Apple did not respond to a request for comment.