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Law Enforcement and Technology: The “Lawful Access” Debate

  • Author(s):
  • Kristin Finklea

Technological advances present both opportunities and challenges for U.S. law enforcement. For example, some developments have increased the quantity and availability of digital content and information for investigators and analysts.

Some observers say law enforcement’s investigative capabilities may be outpaced by the speed of technological change, preventing investigators from accessing certain information they may otherwise be authorized to obtain. Specifically, law enforcement officials cite strong, end-to-end encryption, or what they have called warrant-proof encryption, as preventing lawful access to certain data.

Companies employing such strong encryption have stressed they do not hold encryption keys. This means they may not be readily able to unlock, or decrypt, the devices or communications—not even for law enforcement presenting an authorized search warrant or wiretap order.

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  • White Paper
Website:Visit Publisher Website
Publisher:Congressional Research Office
Published:February 22, 2021
License:Public Domain

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