Critical Issues: Encryption & Going Dark

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Critical Issues: Encryption & Going Dark

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 Worksheet

This messaging worksheet was designed to break down the topic of encryption and going dark, and provide key talking points and facts to assist law enforcement in communications about the subject. While this messaging sheet addresses the overarching issue, it will be most effective when delivered with personalized real examples that are relevant to your agency and community.

Access Worksheet

Additional Resources

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

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. 

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