After the standoff between the Justice Department and Apple over accessing an encrypted cell phone connected to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, members of the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees created a bi-partisan Encryption Working Group (“EWG”) to “conduct a thorough and objective review of the encryption challenge.”
The EWG has issued its initial report stressing that any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest.
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.
At the same time, the EWG report called for Congress to foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies and to reduce the knowledge and capabilities gap between law enforcement and the technology community.
The report also identified a number of issues to follow up on in the new Congress, including defining a legal framework under which law enforcement agencies can exploit existing flaws in digital products.
The full report is below: