Encrypting Smartphones and Internet Messages: Are Americans More or Less Secure?

Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recently the “Crypto Wars” debate started anew when FBI Director Comey suggested that Apple and Google’s encrypting their smart phones presented grave concerns to law enforcement. He suggested that law enforcement should hold to the keys to such communications. UK Prime Minister David Cameron amplified that concern in the wake of the Paris terrorist attack suggesting that encrypted communications should be beyond the ears of law enforcement. And just recently President Barack Obama has called for public conversation on encryption policy. That is a conversation we want to start on March 12.

The data encryption, or crypto, debate is a balancing act between providing digital security for personal communications while allowing security agencies access to prevent or respond to catastrophes. Corporations and privacy advocates argue that strong encryption is good for business and the only way to truly secure your computer or mobile device, but does this protection come at a cost? Are there any technical solutions to address this challenge?


  • David Bitkower, Deputy Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division), United States Department of Justice (Bio)
  • Jen Ellis, Senior Director of Community and Public Affairs, Rapid7 (Bio)
  • Tal Kopan, Cybersecurity Reporter, Politico Pro (Moderator) (Bio)
  • Amie Stepanovich, Senior Policy Counsel, Access (Bio)
  • Heather West, Public Policy, CloudFlare