NetChoice Press Statement on FBI Changes to CALEA

Today, FBI Director James B Comey claimed that federal laws should be changed to require telecommunications companies to give law enforcement agencies access to the encrypted communications of individuals suspected of crimes.  The following statement can be attributed to Carl Szabo, Policy Counsel for NetChoice, an association of eCommerce businesses and online consumers who share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

“Today, the FBI made a call for Congress to change CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) to require US government-controlled access to every cellphone.  Not only would this be a blow to privacy, but it would also be a danger to security – any effort by the government to forcibly weaken encryption puts users’ information at risk.

Given the recent data breaches of unprecedented scale, the online industry has been working adamantly to seal any security cracks and create end-to-end encryption.  But if the FBI gets its way, rather than engineering strong privacy and security protections, device makers would be required to focus on building mechanisms to provide the government complete access.

At a time when security is paramount, the FBI is trying to reverse the tech industry’s course. Any effort to codify an open door in the technology would leave Americans vulnerable to exploitation by foreign governments, hacker groups, or other bad actors.”