There's no such thing as total privacy in the United States, but it's a vital part of being an American.
That was the somewhat convoluted message from FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday as he spoke at a cybersecurity conference in Boston.
"There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America," Comey said. "Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private."
He added that, "In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications."
But Comey did say it's vital for the government to have a "good reason" that's "reviewable in court" if it's going to invade the private lives of citizens.
Americans have a "reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, in our devices," he said.
"It is a vital part of being an American," he added. OK, you confused too, yet?
Comey also opened up about encryption. He said he's a bit tired of the back-and-forth battles over phone access between government and companies such as Apple and Google.
The FBI received 2,800 devices between September and November of last year, according to Comey, all of which they had the legal authority to open.
But 1,200 of them were inaccessible.
That's a problem for the FBI director that he hopes to address going forward, though he did admit that coming to an agreement with the tech industry would require a bit of "humility" from his agency.
We won't hold our breath waiting for that, though.
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