FBI GC Answers Questions on Apple and Encryption
I am in Washington for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Global Privacy Summit. One of the highlights of yesterday was a Q&A session with FBI General Counsel Jim Baker following the bureau’s battle with Apple over compelling Apple to un-encrypt an iPhone used in the San Bernardino attack.
The session came just as What’s App announced it would have end-t0-end encryption on all communications. Note: If you are uncertain about encryption, Fusion’s Kashmir Hill provides a great explainer on the topic (pasted at the bottom).
Baker stressed that he views himself as a privacy lawyer and that is an important part of his job. He stressed that the FBI is tasked with fighting terrorism with an expectation of a “zero error rate”. Encryption makes their job that much harder he said.
At the same time, however, I asked him isn’t it true that the use of encryption and more secure communications reduces the risk of cyber crime and how does the FBI balance that benefit with the increased risk on terror matters. Is stopping one Brussels attack, worth another 100 Sony attacks?
Baker responded that he did not mean to suggest the FBI was against encryption.“We love encryption. I’ve been a victim of privacy crimes several times, including at the OPM. I wish that data had been encrypted.”
Encryption is coming and the FBI is struggling with how to maintain its zero error rate in an encrypted world.
Photo Credit: IAPP