WASHINGTON - Preventing law enforcement authorities from having access to encrypted communications would make it easier for sympathizers of Islamic State militants to carry out an attack in the United States, FBI Chief James Comey said on Wednesday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is pushing technology companies to let law enforcement authorities have access to encrypted communications to investigate illegal activities. Those companies have resisted, arguing that building in such access would undermine encryption and weaken systems against criminals and computer hackers.
Comey told a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIL, is imploring supporters through Twitter to carry out attacks. Related conversations often take place via secure mobile communications that cannot be penetrated by law enforcement.
"The tools we are asked to use are increasingly ineffective," Comey said. "ISIL says go kill, go kill...we are stopping these things so far...but it is incredibly difficult. I cannot see me stopping these indefinitely."