Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act would cripple digital security

This week, Access Now joined public interest organizations, academics, and industry groups in a joint letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act. The bill would undermine encryption and place marginalized communities at greater risk of unwarranted surveillance.

The legislation incorrectly asserts that breaking encrypted systems is necessary to protect public safety and catch criminals; however, federal, state, and local law enforcement have consistently said that, to address the root of the problem, agencies need to better utilize data they already possess or could acquire. Breaking encryption would not solve this dilemma — it would, instead, make us all less safe.

Most alarming is that the legislation would require companies to build encryption backdoors. In some cases, backdoors would be linked to requirements for companies or people to comply with government demands for “technical assistance” (including “decrypting” data) in law enforcement investigations.

“End-to-end encryption is fundamental for personal security, free expression, and privacy, especially for communities at risk,” said Jennifer Brody, Legislative Manager at Access Now. “Trying to enhance public safety by weakening encryption would be like trying to win a race by shooting yourself in the foot. The bill’s logic is flawed and its prescription will only exacerbate the problem.”