Issues Encryption & Lawful Access

Encryption & Lawful Access

Encryption, Lawful Access, and Globalization 

This project addresses key issues of privacy and security on the global Internet.  The project will formally launch in early 2012.

  • Encryption.  The first goal is to provide intellectual leadership on encryption as that topic becomes a major area of controversy globally in countries including India and China. Encryption was the single biggest privacy issue in the 1990s. There has been very little policy analysis of the topic since that time.  Now, as major countries implement limits on effective encryption, it is important to inform a new generation of policymakers and technologists about reasons to support effective encryption.
  • Lawful access.  As an alternative or complement to limitations on encryption, law enforcement and national security agencies can seek lawful access to communications and stored data.  In the United States, the FBI has called for updates to CALEA, the 1994 statute that requires telecommunications providers to architect their systems to enable wiretaps.  In the United States and globally, agencies are increasingly seeking lawful access to cloud service providers and other databases.  The Project will consider the costs and benefits of the multiple ways that government agencies may seek to affect system architecture and otherwise gain access to communications and stored records.


Peter Swire is Director of the Project, and a Senior Fellow of the Future of Privacy Forum.  He is the C. William O’Neill Professor of Law at the Moritz College of Law of the Ohio State University, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Center for Democracy and Technology.

From 1999 to early 2001, Swire served as Chief Counselor for Privacy, in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the only person to date to have government-wide responsibility for privacy policy.  In that role, he chaired the White House Working Group on encryption, as well as a White House Working Group on how to update wiretap laws for the Internet.  In 2009 and 2010 he served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, in the National Economic Council.

Swire has written extensively on privacy and cybersecurity topics.  His writing, speeches, and other materials are available here.


Recent Publications by Peter Swire on Encryption and Lawful Access:

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