Access Now responds to Director Comey’s termination: New FBI director must respect human rights

Washington D.C. (May 10, 2017) — U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey was unexpectedly fired last night. The change in leadership at one of the United States’ top intelligence agencies will have repercussions for vulnerable individuals and communities around the world.

Under Director Comey’s leadership, the FBI expanded its surveillance authorities and infrastructure, engaged in aggressive government hacking, and led the charge to ensure those programs can continue. The agency has also pushed openly, actively, and frequently for mandates to undermine encryption.

The following statement is attributable to Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now:

“At Access Now, we have disagreed with Director Comey on many occasions on issues of global importance, from encryption to surveillance. While we have argued with Director Comey in the courts, in the congress, and in the streets, we note he has also frequently stood up for the rule of law and the political independence of the Bureau.

“A nominee is expected to be named to replace Director Comey this week. In choosing a successor, it is of vital importance that the nominee has a history of respecting human rights. However, so far potential candidates for the position include former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, each of whom is on record supporting backward-looking laws and policies that promote ‘security theatre’ at the expense of human rights. Access Now believes these policies are based in fear, not facts, and often harm vulnerable communities and users at risk.

“We have previously criticized the Trump Administration for its appointments to important positions like the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. We urge President Trump to reject this trend and appoint someone who will fearlessly lead the Bureau while putting people and human rights at the heart of the mission.

“The conditions around Director Comey’s sudden termination raise serious questions about the continued viability of the rule of law in the United States. We urge the Deputy Attorney General to secure the integrity of all investigations previously led by Director Comey — including the preservation of physical and digital records — and to ensure that the investigations can continue and are properly resourced.”