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Friday, March 5th, 2021

Report: Encryption for public safety must be a joint effort between law enforcement, intelligence communities

A bipartisan coalition of House members of the encryption working group recently released a year-end report, which details observations from the current state of encryption services and what the next steps should be to improve them for public security.

For the past year, the group has worked closely with various federal, state, and local government officials, along with government entities, former government agents, private industry, trade associations and civil society organizations to assess encryption as it relates to America’s national interests.

“This conversation implicates everyone and everything that depends on connected technologies, including our law enforcement and intelligence communities,” the report said. “This is a complex challenge that will take time, patience, and cooperation to resolve. The potential consequences of inaction, or overreaction, are too important to allow historical or ideological perspectives to stand in the way of progress.”

Key points made in the report include observations that any measure that weakens encryption would work against national interests and that encryption technology is a global technology that is widely and increasingly available. Additionally, the group notes that there is no “one size fits all” approach to encryption and that Congress should foster cooperation between law enforcement and technology companies to accomplish encryption-related goals.

“The widespread use of encryption technologies also complicates the missions of the law enforcement and intelligence communities,” the report said. “Those complications cannot be ignored. This is the reality of modern society. We must strive to find common ground in our collective responsibility: to prevent crime, protect national security, and provide the best possible conditions for peace and prosperity.”

Members of the group include U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), John Conyers (D-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr (D-NJ), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY).