00:19 GMT01 December 2020
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    Encrypted communications are allegedly relevant to combating domestic and international terror threats, the FBI Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division explained.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is requesting congressional support to make US technology and communications companies provide the agency with access to encrypted data and communications, FBI Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division Michael Steinbach said on Wednesday.

    “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.

    Documents, leaked in 2013 by the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, show the FBI working with Internet security companies to provide security backdoors. The digital security loopholes give the US law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to users’ supposedly encrypted data.

    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.

    The FBI’s inability to access encrypted communications is a “grave” risk, Steinbach stated. He added that while some technology companies are cooperative in providing access to customers’ data, other “companies have built a product that does not allow them to help.”

    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.

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    Tags:
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), counterterrorism, encryption, US Congress, Michael Steinbach, US
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