The U.S. is better off supporting strong encryption than trying to weaken it, according to a new bipartisan congressional report that stands at odds with the FBI’s push to install backdoors into tech products.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan congressional panel published a year-end report, advising the U.S. to explore other solutions to the encryption debate.
“Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest,” the report said.
The report acknowledges that encryption technology has become an obstacle for law enforcement agencies when investigating crimes. However, forcing U.S. companies to compromise their encryption wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem. Consumers and bad actors, for instance, would likely choose to use more secure products offered by foreign companies, the report said.
“Congress cannot stop bad actors—at home or overseas—from adopting encryption,” the report added.
The report concludes:
“Encryption is inexorably tied to our national interests. It is a safeguard for our personal secrets and economic prosperity. It helps to prevent crime and protect national security. The widespread use of encryption technologies also complicates the missions of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. As described in this report, 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.
“That is why this can no longer be an isolated or binary debate. There is no ‘us versus them,’ or ‘pro-encryption versus law enforcement.’ This conversation implicates everyone and everything that depends on connected technologies—including our law enforcement and intelligence communities. 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.”
Below are key observations of the report.
- Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest.
- Encryption technology is a global technology that is widely and increasingly available around the world.
- The variety of stakeholders, technologies, and other factors create different and divergent challenges with respect to encryption and the “going dark” phenomenon, and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the encryption challenge.
- Congress should foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies.