ACI Journal Articles


You Can’t Always Get What You Want: How Will Law Enforcement Get What it Needs in a Post-CALEA, Cybersecurity-Centric Encryption Era?

Document Type


USMA Research Unit Affiliation

Army Cyber Institute

Publication Date



In recent years, many technology companies have enabled encryption by default in their products, thereby burdening law enforcement efforts to intercept communications content or access data stored on smartphones by traditional means. Even before such encryption technologies were widely used, however, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) claimed its surveillance capabilities were “Going Dark” due to the adoption by consumers of new IP-based communication technologies, many of which are not subject to any surveillance-enabling obligations under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (“CALEA”). The heightened tension produced by the introduction of encryption by default into an environment where terrorism has magnified the need for efficient law enforcement access (surveillance) supported by a newly-expanded CALEA framework is often framed as a contest between privacy and security.

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