On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said that Americans should no longer have the expectations of complete privacy. Comey, who was the keynote speaker at a cybersecurity conference at Boston College, said there is no longer “absolute privacy” in the US, Politico reported.
“Even our memories aren’t private,” he said. “Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw. In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications. There is no place in America outside of judicial reach.”
Comey’s comments came less than 24 hours after WikiLeaks released files from the CIA which appear to show that the agency has the ability to hack cars, TVs and smartphones. Unfortunately for the director, his remarks came at a rather awkward moment when you consider that the CIA was just hacked and many of their own hacking tools are now doubtless in the hands of the bad guys. It’s not just our phones and laptops anymore, but even our televisions which can apparently be used to spy on us in certain cases. Saying that we have no expectation of privacy from the nation’s intelligence agencies would carry a lot more weight if they had the ability to keep their own tools under control.
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During his speech to law enforcement officials and private-sector business leaders, Comey did not reference the wiretapping controversy, which was raised by President Trump, who accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping him during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, and in our devices. But it also means with good reason, in court, government through law enforcement can invade our private spaces,” Comey said.
He said the FBI is renewing a focus on the challenges posed by encryption. He said there should be a balance between privacy and the FBI’s ability to lawfully access information. He also said the FBI needs to recruit talented computer personnel who might otherwise go to work for Apple or Google.
“The cyberthreats we face are enormous. I don’t know if we can stay ahead of them. And I think to say otherwise would be hubris,” Comey said.
Comey added that he plans to serve his entire 10-year term despite the wiretapping controversy.
“You’re stuck with me for another 6 1/2 years,” he said.