Peter Swire, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, provides a preview of his arguments for an upcoming Teleforum Call: "Going Dark" and the Intersection of Law Enforcement and Privacy Interests.

Join us on Monday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern to hear Prof. Swire debate Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

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In recent months, law enforcement, led by FBI Director James Comey, has waged war against the “going dark” problem—criminals using secure communications technologies, particularly encryption, to evade justice. But in reality, we are currently in a “golden age of surveillance.” The “going dark” argument should not be used as a reason to support back doors or other special access by law enforcement to encrypted communications.

When I testified this summer in the same hearing as Director Comey, I stressed three arguments.  First, I agree that there are indeed specific ways that law enforcement and national security agencies lose specific previous capabilities due to changing encryption technology. These specific losses, however, are more than offset by massive gains, including: (1) location information; (2) information about contacts and confederates; and (3) an array of new databases that create digital dossiers about individuals’ lives.

Second, government-mandated vulnerabilities would threaten severe harm to cybersecurity, privacy, human rights, and U.S. technological leadership while not preventing effective encryption by adversaries.

Third, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology report, released in December 2013, unanimously and clearly recommended that the U.S. government vigorously encourage the use of strong encryption.  This support for encryption, rather than the criticisms made by those who claim we are going dark, is the best U.S. policy.