OTI Policy Director Kevin Bankston to Testify on Encryption Technology and Possible U.S. Policy Responses

Press Release
April 29, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC — This afternoon, the Open Technology Institute’s Policy Director, Kevin S. Bankston, will testify before the House of Representatives on encryption technology and possible U.S. policy responses. Appearing before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Information Technology, Bankston will argue against law enforcement and intelligence officials who have suggested that Congress should legislate to limit the availability of strongly encrypted products and services.

In his written testimony, Bankston offers ten reasons why Congress should not require that companies build into their systems surveillance “backdoors” for the government. That testimony concludes with a reference to the Crypto Wars of the 1990s, when policymakers ultimately rejected similar proposals, and to the expert Review Group hand-picked by the President to review the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, which recommended in its final report that the U.S. government should support rather than attempt to suppress access to strong encryption:

“Congress can and should leave the idea of encryption backdoors in the dustbin of history where it belongs. Instead, policymakers should heed the lessons of the past and the advice of the President’s Review Group by considering policies that will promote rather than undermine the widespread use of strong encryption and thereby help guarantee a more secure and prosperous future for America.”

The following statement can be attributed to Kevin S. Bankston, OTI Policy Director:

“By the end of the Crypto Wars of the 1990s, policymakers concluded that strong encryption is critical to protecting U.S. cybersecurity, preventing fraud and cybercrime, promoting the growth of the information economy, and protecting civil liberties, and that encryption backdoors undermine all of those goals. We believe that the current debate should and ultimately will end the same way. We can’t allow the short-sighted concerns of some law enforcement officials to obscure the long-term goal of creating a more secure Internet and more secure digital devices, which will in turn help to prevent countless crimes.”

Read Bankston’s full written testimony or a shorter summary of his testimony.