Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on Introduction of Lawful Access Bill in Senate

Today, Attorney General William P. Barr issued the following statement on the introduction of a bill that would give law enforcement access to critical digital evidence if permitted by a court while also protecting privacy. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, and Marsha Blackburn.

“Passing legislation that allows warrant access to encrypted data will allow law enforcement to further provide for the safety and security of the American people. I applaud Chairman Graham and Senators Cotton and Blackburn for introducing the first-ever bill to address this issue.  

While strong encryption provides enormous benefits to society and is undoubtedly necessary for the security and privacy of Americans, end-to-end encryption technology is being abused by child predators, terrorists, drug traffickers, and even hackers to perpetrate their crimes and avoid detection.  Warrant-proof encryption allows these criminals to operate with impunity.  This is dangerous and unacceptable.

Indeed, the danger is particularly great for children who are targeted online for sexual exploitation, especially during this time of coronavirus lockdowns.  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.  We cannot allow these companies to elevate their profits and the privacy rights of these abusers over the safety and security of children.   

The bill announced today balances the privacy interests of consumers with the public safety interests of the community by requiring the makers of consumer devices to provide law enforcement with access to encrypted data when authorized by a judge.  I am confident that our world-class technology companies can engineer secure products that protect user information and allow for lawful access.  Data security and public safety are not mutually exclusive. Encryption should keep us safe and secure, not provide an impenetrable safe haven for predators, terrorists, and criminals.”  

Press Release Number: 
20-581
Updated June 23, 2020