Wyden 'corrects' CIA director on encryption tools

Opposes requiring U.S. cos. to build in 'back doors' to products

WASHINGTON - Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued a statement correcting CIA Director John Brennan's inaccurate description of the foreign encryption market at Thursday's open hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

"It is clearly inaccurate to say that foreign encryption is a ‘theoretical' capability," the senator said.

"Strong encryption technologies are available from foreign sources today – half of them of them are inexpensive and the other half are free. U.S. tech companies dominate this field today, but they are competing in a global marketplace.

"These products are used by consumers and businesses every single day to protect everything from bank records and business transactions to personal communications and other sensitive data."

Requiring American companies to deliberately build back doors into their products would not stop terrorists from using strong encryption," he said, "and it would undermine American competitiveness and Americans' digital security at a time when the threat from foreign hackers and cyber-attacks has never been greater."

Wyden cited a recent study by respected cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier that identified 619 entities selling encryption products and noted that two-thirds were outside the U.S. These services include Telegram, which the CIA Director discussed in his opening statement.

Watch Wyden's remarks at the hearing here.

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