The workshop opened with framing remarks delivered by Fred H. Cate, C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and chair of the workshop planning committee. He began with an overview of the workshop’s goals and parameters.
Recognizing that the topic of encryption and government access has engendered lively debate and that attendees hold diverse perspectives, Cate expressed his hope that the workshop could help to move the conversation forward by exploring the different and sometimes conflicting views on the technologies involved in encryption and mechanisms for obtaining access to plaintext. He emphasized that the workshop will not produce recommendations of any sort and does not aim to achieve consensus among attendees. He also clarified that the workshop is not intended to grapple with the wide range of values involved in considerations about government access to plaintext or to be a forum for evaluating how the country should proceed with regard to policy or other actions.
Cate summarized the workshop’s purpose as elucidating the potential options in a technologically rigorous way and outlined the meeting’s four focus areas:
- The current encryption landscape,
- Encryption use cases and the feasibility of segmenting encryption policies,
- Security risks of architectures for enabling access to plaintext, and
- Technical and policy mitigations for inaccessible plaintext.
Later in the workshop, Cate brought attendees’ attention to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study currently under way titled “Law Enforcement and Intelligence Access to Plaintext Information in an Era of Widespread Strong Encryption: Options and Trade-offs,” which is intended to dive deeper into many of the topics being discussed at the workshop. That study is slated for completion in 2017.
Cate acknowledged the workshop sponsor, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which requested the workshop in an effort to bring together a wide range of perspectives to advance the discussion in a neutral forum. He also expressed gratitude to the workshop organizers, including the planning committee members and Computer Science and Telecommunications Board staff members, who worked quickly to organize in a matter of weeks a high-caliber workshop that would typically have taken months to plan.