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Wagner Introduces Bill to Protect Victims of Crime, Reject Dangerous Warrant-Proof Encryption

Jul 30, 2020
Press Release
The bill would require tech companies to submit to lawful warrants and stop shielding criminal activities

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), Chair of the House Suburban Caucus, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after Rep. Wagner introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, the House companion to Senator Graham’s bill of the same name.

“Bad actors, especially child predators and human traffickers, have taken full advantage of warrant-proof encryption and other technological advances to hide their criminal activities from law enforcement at the expense of innocent victims. It is time tech companies stand with criminal investigators and the public to make clear they are committed to rooting out perpetrators who use their services to commit horrific crimes. As the digital world advances, so must our legislative solutions to investigate crimes that hit hardest the most vulnerable in our society. My legislation would require tech companies to help law enforcement access requested data in response to a lawful warrant, incentivize innovation to build environments where lawful access and maximum privacy can co-exist, and train law enforcement on how to access digital evidence.

“This legislation properly balances privacy, public safety, and our Fourth Amendment rights by requiring due process before any encrypted data or devices are accessed. At a time when children are especially at risk of exploitation, we must be sure our law enforcement officials have everything they need to root out traffickers and abusers who seek to use encryption as a shield to avoid justice.” - Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO)

“I greatly appreciate Representative Wagner for introducing the House companion of the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act. Terrorists and criminals routinely use technology, whether smartphones, apps, or other means, to coordinate and communicate their daily activities. In recent history, we have experienced numerous terrorism cases and serious criminal activity where vital information could not be accessed, even after a court order was issued. Unfortunately, tech companies have refused to honor these court orders and assist law enforcement in their investigations. My position is clear: After law enforcement obtains the necessary court authorizations, they should be able to retrieve information to assist in their investigations. Our legislation respects and protects the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. It also puts the terrorists and criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to hide behind technology to cover their tracks.” – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

Read the one-pager on the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act here.

“Digital evidence is a part of nearly every crime scene today and law enforcement is increasingly facing real and growing challenges in getting this evidence when we obtain the required legal process. This significantly hampers law enforcement’s ability to keep our communities safe, prosecute criminals and protect victims.  The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act will ensure that when law enforcement is investigating such heinous crimes as kidnapping, homicide, child pornography or human trafficking, service providers must assist us in obtaining that information for the investigation.  Service providers and device manufacturers will no longer be able to evade the law and law enforcement will be given the evidence necessary to bring justice for our communities. The National Association of Police Organizations supports this legislation and we thank Representative Wagner for her leadership on this issue.” - Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations.

“Shared Hope International is deeply concerned about the costs to victims of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation when encryption policies proceed without consideration or accountability for the impact on crime victims. The proliferation of online criminal activity involving children requires a robust dialogue and creative solutions to find technological approaches that allow for lawful access to critical information. This access is essential to prevent traffickers and exploiters from using encryption to shield their illegal activities from law enforcement. Shared Hope International sees the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act as a critical step to ensuring encryption does not create barriers to law enforcement’s efforts to protect children online.” – Congresswoman Linda Smith, Founder and President, Shared Hope International (1995-99)

“The introduction of the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act reflects the immediate need for a legislative solution to the issue of smartphone device encryption and lawful access to digital evidence. By accounting for detailed processes that require a valid warrant and court order, while also accounting for the resources needed to ensure that technology community is able to comply with these orders, your legislation represents a realistic path forward to solving this complicated problem.” - Duffie Stone, President of the National District Attorneys Association

“While the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) fully recognizes the benefits encryption affords to law abiding citizens, we cannot let the use of this technology by criminals threaten the safety of our communities. Warrant-proof encryption has stifled countless law enforcement investigations into drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other violent and heinous crimes. The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act strikes the proper balance between lawful access and civil rights and liberties, giving law enforcement the tools its needs to ensure public safety while protecting American’s right to privacy. The MCCA strongly supports this bill and thanks Rep. Wagner for her leadership on this critical issue.” -Art Acevedo, Chief, Houston Police Department, and President, Major Cities Chief Association

“We urge the U.S. House to support Rep. Wagner’s encryption bill that will allow law enforcement to take reasonable, and constitutional, steps to more thoroughly investigate child predators.” - Patrick A. Trueman, President and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.    

“Currently, criminals are able to hide behind outdated data privacy laws that threaten public safety. The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act addresses this gap in enforcement by codifying into federal law a requirement that technology companies ensure federal law enforcement have a process for obtaining lawful access to encrypted data.” -Lawrence J. Leiser, President, NAAUSA

“Your legislation would create very reasonable requirements for companies to comply with legal orders pursuant to search warrants… That is why we support your bill and will work to educate all Members of the Senate and House about its importance to our agencies and the citizens we serve.” - Peter J. Koutoujian, President of the Major County Sheriffs of America