Federal Bureau of Investigation director Jim Comey pulls out of SXSW appearance

Casey Mills
March 10, 2017

On Wednesday during a cyber security conference at Boston College, Comey made it clear "he has no plans to step down any time soon". He says the courts can compel us to testify about private and privileged communications, and that the government should be able to access our personal encrypted data.

Americans have a "reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, in our devices", he said. OK, you confused too, yet?

Comey has been tight-lipped with lawmakers about investigations he's pursuing - to the point that their frustration has spilled out into the open. Sen. He said he's a bit exhausted of the back-and-forth battles over phone access between government and companies such as Apple and Google.

"You're stuck with me for another 6 1/2 a years", said Comey, now in the midst of a 10-year term as director.

Comey was discussing the rising prevalence of encryption software since Edward Snowden revealed information about the National Security Agency's global surveillance programs in 2013; such softwre prevented the Federal Bureau of Investigation from accessing 1,200 of the 2,800 devices it was granted permission to search at the end of 2016. We won't hold our breath waiting for that, though. "We need to build trust between the government and private sector".

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Comey's comments come amid growing concern over privacy in light of a WikiLeaks announcement this week, which revealed how the Central Intelligence Agency circumvents security features in popular devices-including smartphones and smart TVs-to obtain information on individuals around the world. "Here's the deal though: it is not the FBI's job to tell the American people how to live", Comey said.

"You can ask me about anything, I'm very slippery - I'll avoid talking about things I don't want to talk about", Comey said to chuckles in the room.

More recently, Comey reportedly found himself on the other side of the Trump White House when he pushed back on President Trump's claim that Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the election. "They are kept from us by companies who think they just need to take care of it and get on with business". On Wednesday, he said that during October, November, and December past year, the FBI received a total of 2,800 devices related to criminal investigations from state and local law enforcement.

Comey's appearance comes after he was accused of costing Hillary Clinton the presidential win last November by making a last-minute announcement about her emails.

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