Engine statement on FBI data on encrypted devices

The following can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:

“For months, the FBI has repeatedly claimed that it has more than 7,000 impenetrable phones in its possession to support its argument that tech companies should build backdoors into their encrypted products and services to allow law enforcement access to users’ data. According to a new report, that number is actually between 1,000 and 2,000, meaning the FBI has using dramatically overblown numbers in its push to weaken encryption technologies that internet users rely on every day.

Considering the dire consequences of circumventing strong encryption, clouding the debate around encryption policy with fraudulent claims is deeply problematic. Contrary to the FBI’s claims, encryption enhances public safety, protecting internet users around the world from malicious hackers, government surveillance, and more. Undermining encryption technology through backdoors would be especially devastating for startups and their users, since they lack the vast resources necessary to even attempt to protect unencrypted user information. Internet users rely on encryption-enabled startups every day to do things like talk with loved ones, secure communications between Internet of Things devices, and store and share sensitive health, banking, and business information. Weakening encryption will make it impossible for those startups to operate and will put their users’ sensitive information at risk.

If policymakers want to have a serious, balanced debate about law enforcement’s push to have tech companies—including startups—intentionally weaken their products, they need real facts, not over inflated data that paint a more dramatic picture than actually exists.”