WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Senior US officials are unable to access encrypted terrorist communications because they broke the law by running a secret mass surveillance that created a public backlash, US Senator Ron Wyden said at a Senate Intelligence hearing.
“Executive branch agencies are now dealing with a problem that they largely created. Senior officials made the choice to secretly twist the law to support an ill-conceived secret program that vacuumed up millions of phone and email records of law-abiding Americans,” Wyden told FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday.
Mass surveillance, in turn, created a “very serious public backlash” that forced US hardware and software companies to provide greater amounts of encryption access to their customers, Wyden explained.
Hardware and software companies have developed encryption with security keys only the user can access, thereby preventing US law enforcement from accessing the information.
In 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked an estimated 1.7 million classified documents, revealing widespread and illegal surveillance of civilian, government and corporate communications by the NSA.