El Paso FBI says they need more access to encrypted messages

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — When it comes to our phones and computers we all want to have privacy. However, the El Paso FBI says that privacy can become harmful when used by criminals.

Nowadays, a large majority of people have apps on their phones with end to end encryption. Making messages unavailable to third parties.

Warrant proof encryption has become more available to the general public. It prevents law enforcement from accessing messages even after they have a warrant to search a phone.

“If we don’t have access to encrypted communications then we are blind to that, and that could give a whole platform to individuals that get socialized with each other or radicalized or influenced themselves,” said Luis Quesada the El Paso FBI Special Agent in Charge.

It has been two years since the Sutherland Springs church shooting and the FBI says they have yet to access the shooters phone due to the advanced encryption on the device.

The FBI cannot comment about the El Paso Walmart shooters phone since it is still under investigation. However, they say encryption gives radicalized individuals a means of protected communication.

“They write manifestos, they put them out. If we don’t have access to that, that’s a threat to all of us as a society,” said Quesada.

According to the FBI advance encryptions are used by drug cartels, human traffickers, child pornographers and radical individuals.

“The problem is with this type of encryption these companies are deploying, we cant get into them,” said Quesada. “We saw from the Sutherland shooting so you could imagine any other crime from child pornographers and human trafficking they depend on communication.”

However, Facebook has been testing end to end encryption to provide more privacy to users on messenger and Instagram direct messages.

This raises the concerns of government officials and law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been working to have Facebook allow law enforcement to have a back door to read those encrypted messages.

“There has to be a balance for the safety and security of the general population,” said Quesada.

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