Encryption/Going Dark

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Criminals of all types, including terrorists, are taking advantage of encrypted technology that allows them to operate in the shadows, undetected by law enforcement and the intelligence community. Crime scenes from terrorist attacks, homicides, kidnappings, assaults, and incidents of domestic violence now, more often than not, include digital communications evidence. Digital footprints are the modern-day fingerprint that law enforcement uses to protect the public.
With the continued development of new technologies and strategies established to advance network security, law enforcement, prosecutors, and other investigators are finding it increasingly difficult to execute lawful court orders to obtain critical digital evidence. The inability of law enforcement to overcome these barriers (known as “Going Dark” in the law enforcement community) has presented real challenges. This page will serve as a clearinghouse of resources to help guide law enforcement as they are confronted with difficult questions related to “Going Dark.”

Messaging Resource

Encyrption/Going Dark Messaging Sheet


Data, Privacy and Public Safety: A Law Enforcement Perspective on the Challenges of Gathering Electronic Evidence (2015)

In 2015, the IACP convened a Law Enforcement Summit on “Going Dark” to help identify legal, technical, and operational concerns associated with the issues surrounding the gathering and use of data related to communications and mobile devices.  A broad array of law enforcement leaders, investigators, and subject matter experts participated in the summit.

The summit report, reviews the current capabilities of law enforcement agencies, the impact that technological advances are having on law enforcement investigations, and the role of industry in this debate.  The summit report also makes clear that our laws have failed to keep pace with new technology and that urgent and immediate action needs to be taken. 



Encryption (1999)

Support for the Enactment of Encryption Legislation (1997)

Encryption (1996)


IACP and NDAA Support Burr-Feinstein Draft Legislation on Encryption

Joint Law Enforcement Letter on Email Privacy Act, H.R. 699

IACP Supports Legislation to Clarify Law on Internet Threats

Joint Letter on S. 356 – the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2015 and Reducing the Effects of Non-Technical Barriers to Lawful Access to Electronic Evidence

Joint Law Enforcement Fact Sheet on Electronic Communications


IACP and NDAA Hold Congressional Briefing on Encryption

Presidential Focus: Going Dark and the Challenges of Gathering Electronic Evidence

Going Dark: Addressing the Challenges of Data, Privacy, and Public Safety