FBI director James Comey advocated for an easing of security mechanisms so that law enforcement worldwide would have an easier time snooping on encrypted communications, according to a report from IDG News Service.
Speaking at a conference on Thursday at the University of Texas at Austin, Comey intimated that the U.S. might collaborate with other nations on a framework for creating legal access to encrypted tech devices.
“I could imagine a community of nations committed to the rule of law developing a set of norms, a framework, for when government access is appropriate,” he said on Thursday.
He was responding to queries around the government calling for backdoors into tech devices – a technology step that could grant law enforcement access to users’ communications, regardless if the device was using encryption software.
While acknowledging that other countries are struggling as well with the balance between encryption and the needs of law enforcement, Comey seemed to advocate for an international standard that would essentially weaken the security in vendors’ tech products.N
“Once you build that backdoor, good luck trying to keep the Russians and Chinese out,” said Nate Cardozo, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog.
Comey made similar points earlier this month in Boston, where he said he supported “strong encryption,” but noted that the FBI was not able to open any of the 2,800 devices it received between September and November of 2016.
“If Comey thinks that encryption is increasingly blinding his agency’s investigative capability, I will point out that he’s trying to peer into the digital footprint of citizens more than ever before,” Jacob Ginsberg, senior director, Echoworx, said at the time.