“We [FBI] are imploring Congress to work with us to seek legal remedies, as well as asking companies to provide technical solutions for accessing encrypted data,” Steinbach told the House Homeland Security Committee.
He continued that the FBI is discussing “going to those providers and requesting access to either that stored information or the communications, when they are ongoing."
Encrypted communications are allegedly relevant to combating domestic and international terror threats, Steinbach explained.
Steinbach argued that the FBI was “not looking at going through a backdoor or being nefarious,” but rather gaining access to encrypted information by going through the national security courts.
The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court is a secret court whose decisions and issuances of warrants are not made public.
US technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, have worked to meet customer demands for strict data encryption, measures largely opposed by law enforcement and national security officials.
The FBI and NSA have previously recommended tech companies provide “digital keys” to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain access to users’ secured communications. The requirement is largely opposed by privacy advocates, companies, and a number of lawmakers in the United States.