FBI Director James Comey presented the morning government keynote address to cyber security experts at the Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 2016
Here’s why I think it requires an adult conversation. Our nation’s founders struck a bargain 240 ago. In our great country, we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in all of our private spaces—in our houses, in our cars, in our safe deposit boxes, in our devices. That is a very important part of being an American. The government cannot invade our private spaces without good reason—good reason that is reviewable in court.
But it also means that with good reason, the people of the United States, through judges and law enforcement, can invade our private spaces. That is the bargain that has been at the heart of ordered liberty in this country since its founding.
We need a conversation that starts from a place where we recognize that there are no evil people in this conversation. We share the same values. We all care deeply about the same things—privacy on the one hand, security and safety on the other. We may weigh them differently. I may see the world more darkly than somebody who lives in sunny Silicon Valley. I may over-weight the dark side. But we have the same values. That should allow us to have a thoughtful conversation without demonizing anybody or trying to bumper-sticker anybody. I hope you will participate in that conversation, and that we can have it next year when we’re not engaged, as you may have heard, in an election.