Encryption helps human rights workers, activists, journalists, financial institutions, innovative businesses, and governments protect the confidentiality, integrity, and economic value of their activities. However, strong encryption may mean that governments cannot make sense of data they would otherwise be able to lawfully access in a criminal or intelligence investigation. Today, law enforcement agencies argue that if people are going to use strong crypto, then law enforcement investigators will need work-arounds in order to investigate crime and gather evidence of wrongdoing.
One such work-around is government hacking. The U.S. government is conducting remote access to and searches of computers (hacking) in order to investigate crime and gather evidence of wrongdoing. Law enforcement is pushing for enhanced powers to be able conduct remote access and searches on a larger scale and a more regular basis. In collaboration with Mozilla, Stanford Center for Internet and Society have convened experts from law enforcement, criminal defense, privacy and surveillance law, and computer science for a series of conversations in which participants have explored and debated the complex issues associated with government hacking. Based on these conversations, our research on this topic is ongoing.