Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 30, 2020

Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on Introduction of Lawful Access Bill in the House of Representatives

Today, Attorney General William P. Barr issued the following statement on the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would give law enforcement access to encrypted data with court approval in order to protect user privacy.  The legislation was introduced by Representative Ann Wagner.

“I applaud Representative Wagner for introducing this critical lawful access legislation.  Although strong encryption is vital, we cannot allow the tech industry to use encryption that blinds law enforcement and prevents it from thwarting or investigating serious crimes and national security threats, including terrorist plots, cyberattacks, and sexual exploitation.  

The danger is particularly great for children, especially during this time of coronavirus restrictions when children are spending more time online.  Survivors of child sexual abuse and their families have pleaded with technology companies to do more to prevent predators from exploiting their platforms to harm children.  Unfortunately, these companies have not done enough, which is why this legislation is needed. 

Privacy and public safety are not mutually exclusive.  I am confident that the tech industry can design strong encryption that allows for lawful access by law enforcement.  Encryption should keep us safe, not provide a safe haven for predators and terrorists.”  

Press Release Number: 
20-726
Updated July 30, 2020