In a speech delivered at the United States Naval Academy on October 10, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein waded into the public debate between data privacy and law enforcement interests. As part of a discussion moderated by former Covington cybersecurity attorney Jeff Kosseff, Rosenstein’s remarks discussed cyber issues facing law enforcement with a particular focus on the advent of “warrant-proof” encryption. In his view, warrant-proof encrypted data and devices are unable to be intercepted or unlocked by law enforcement, even with a court order.
Noting that “[p]rivate sector entities are crucial partners” in the fight against cyber threats, Rosenstein expressed concerns about the role played by tech companies in advancing warrant-proof encryption. While recognizing the need to balance important privacy interests against law enforcement priorities, Rosenstein argued that “[w]arrant-proof encryption defeats the constitutional balance by elevating privacy above public safety.” He emphasized the threat posed to public safety when technology developers deprive law enforcement of “crucial investigative tools.” Rosenstein advocated for “responsible encryption,” recognizing that this approach would not be one-size-fits-all and that solutions would likely look different depending on the company and technology at issue.
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