Freeh Warns of Encryption Use in International Crime and Terrorism
(April 23, 1998) FBI Director Louis Freeh warned a Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Tuesday that the use of encryption by international terrorists and drug dealers is frustrating FBI law enforcement efforts.
|"Encryption has become the most important
issue confronting law enforcement. Widespread use of robust non-recoverable
encryption is beginning to devastate our ability to fight crime and terrorism."
Director Freeh testified before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The topic of the hearing was "International Crime." Freeh was accompanied by General Igor Smeshko, Director of the Center for Strategic Planning and Analysis, Ukraine, who also testified.
Congress is presently considering several bills which would guarantee the rights of Americans to both use and export strong encryption products, much to the dismay of the FBI. (See for example, HR 695 and S 377.)
As FBI Director, Louis Freeh often testifies before Congressional committees. He rarely passes up an opportunity to try to dissuade Congress from passing such legislation.
Text of Relevant Portion of Freeh's Prepared Statement
"In recent years, the FBI's domestic law enforcement and national security missions have expanded and changed. In the first half of this century, the FBI earned its reputation as a preeminent law enforcement agency because of our success in response to the advent of interstate crime that swept the United States. As we approach the beginning of the 21st Century, the United States now faces the increasing globalization of crime and criminal organizations. This growth of transnational crimes has been aided by the explosion in computer and telecommunications technology."
"In a global economy, the United States is increasingly affected by crime originating in other countries. Criminal activities ranging from telemarketing fraud and financial institution fraud, to the more traditional drug and organized crime, come regularly to our shores. Sadly, terrorism has come as well. The international exporters of crime and terrorism, who seek to capitalize on vulnerabilities in free societies and open markets, include South American drug cartels, terrorists from the Middle East, and an array of organized crime groups from Europe, the former Soviet Republics and Asia. Regardless of origin, these and other international crimes impact directly on our citizens, often violently, and on our economy."
"One of the most difficult challenges facing law enforcement is how rapidly criminals and terrorists -- both domestic and international -- adopt advanced technologies to thwart the ability of law enforcement to investigate those who wish to do harm to our Nation and its citizens. That is why encryption has become the most important issue confronting law enforcement."
"Widespread use of robust non-recoverable encryption is beginning to devastate our ability to fight crime and terrorism. Uncrackable encryption allows drug lords, terrorists, and even violent gangs to communicate about their criminal intentions without fear of outside intrusion. This type of encryption also allows these same people to maintain electronically stored evidence of their criminal intentions without fear of outside intrusion. This type of encryption also allows these same people to maintain electronically stored evidence of their crimes beyond the reach of law enforcement."
"For example, convicted spy Aldrich Ames was instructed by his Soviet handlers to encrypt computer file information that was to be passed to them. Ramzi Yousef, convicted with others for plotting to blow up between five and twelve United States owned commercial airliners in the far east, used encryption to protect criminal information on his laptop computer. Major international drug traffickers are increasingly using telephone encryption devices to frustrate court-authorized electronic surveillance. Unfortunately, these types of situations will occur with more frequency as inexpensive encryption becomes more readily available to the public."
"Developing a balanced approach to robust encryption is an extremely serious
public policy issue. The Administration has launched a focused initiative to work
closely with the information technology industry to develop technical and policy solutions
that represent balanced approaches to strong encryption. However, we need the
cooperation of all affected parties -- law enforcement, private industry, government
officials, members of Congress, and the American public -- to create a solution which can
protect individual privacy rights and permit law enforcement to fulfill its duties to
protect the people from illegal and unlawful activities."
Source: Office of Sen. Mitch McConnell, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Senate Appropriations Committee.