Amy Hess, executive assistant director of the FBI‘s science and technology branch, has said the FBI needs access to electronic information to aid in its investigations amid technological changes and evolving national security and criminal threats.
Hess made the remarks in testimony delivered Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigation subpanel.
She cited the use of encrypted messaging tools by the Islamic State organization and other terrorist groups to radicalize individuals to perform terrorist attacks.
Hess told the House panel how the FBI implements the judicial authorization principle in order to ensure public safety as well as the individuals’ right to private communications.
“One of the bedrock principles upon which we rely to guide us is the principle of judicial authorization: that if an independent judge finds legally sufficient reason to believe that certain private communications contain evidence of a crime, then the government can conduct a limited search for that evidence,” she said.
Hess also noted the need for the U.S. government and the public to engage in a dialogue to discuss the impact of encryption on law enforcement agencies’ investigations.