Holder Urges Tech Companies to Avoid `Thwarting' Law Enforcement Investigations

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By Alexei Alexis

Sept. 30 — Attorney General Eric Holder said Sept. 30 he was worried about technology companies that are “thwarting” law enforcement investigations.

Holder's comments came on the heels of news that Apple Inc. and Google Inc. are offering smartphone encryption features that put customer data outside the reach of law enforcement agencies.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said at the Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

He called on technology companies to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information.

FBI Director James Comey recently raised similar concerns.

Technology companies have been increasingly at odds with government surveillance efforts in the wake of leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Apple and Google are part of an industry coalition that is pressing Congress to enact comprehensive changes, including preventing the intelligence community from engaging in the bulk collection of phone and Internet records.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexei Alexis in Washington at aalexis@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com