On Wednesday afternoon, Daniel Conley, the District Attorney for Suffolk, Massachusetts, testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Information Technology on the expansion of law enforcement’s power to access data during investigations.
Conley’s testimony comes just a month after FBI Director James Comey urged Congress to recognize the need for tech companies to implement ‘technological back doors’ that, with a proper search warrant, would allow investigators to circumvent encryption and gain immediate access to any information on a suspect’s device.
Speaking from a prepared statement, Conley said:
In America, we often say that none of us is above the law. But when unaccountable corporate interests place crucial evidence beyond the legitimate reach of our courts, they are in fact placing those who rape, defraud, assault and even kill in a position of profound advantage over victims and society.
Such strong language stirred up a privacy advocate ‘pit-bull’ in Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who first responded to Conley by stating, “I respect your public service, I take great offense at your testimony today.”
(Don’t let the length of the video scare you off – it starts at Lieu’s comments and you only need to watch for a couple of minutes to hear his statement, which sounds truly heartfelt.)
He went on to dismantle Conley’s argument, emphasizing that pressure for tech companies to prioritize privacy over security comes primarily from the American public:
It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.”
Speaking to The Daily Dot in an interview Thursday night, Lieu then made it painfully easy for the bureaucrats to follow:
“Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution. And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this.” […]
“I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. That’s why our founders put the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution of the United States – because they understood that an Orwellian, overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things this world could have.”
Will wonders never cease! A Dem from California that I agree with. I appreciate that he stood up for the Constitution, although I have my doubts about his effectiveness. With this admin, Comey most likely will get his technological back doors.
Are we looking at a Dem with a little common sense? Maybe, but don’t get too excited – he may be a privacy advocate, but he’s still a gun grabber.
You had us going there for a minute, Ted.