FBI Quest For Smartphone Data Fueling Privacy Fight

In the battle over how much access law enforcement should have to your smartphone, don’t expect the government to be outsmarted without a fight.

FBI Director James Comey said as much Thursday in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, suggesting the agency might ask congress to force companies to provide what amounts to a “back door” to law enforcement to obtain password-protected data on targeted personal mobile devices.

“We’re hoping to start a dialogue with congress” on updating laws that require tech companies to comply, he told the audience.

But he might find more than the usual resistance on Capitol Hill these days, and not just from known privacy critics and libertarians.

“I don’t think any legislative response is warranted until Congress passes the USA Freedom Act and other [National Security Agency] reforms,” charged Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Oversight Subcommittee. He’s the principal author of the USA Freedom Act, which would rein in bulk collection of personal electronic data by federal law enforcement and surveillance agencies.

Despite strong bipartisan support, a watered-down version passed the House in May. It is awaiting action in the Senate.

“This problem has been caused by the administration overreaching in terms of grabbing all the data from people’s smart phones and computers – that’s what the NSA has been doing for years now, and Apple and Google are responding to it,” Sensenbrenner told FoxNews.com in an interview on Thursday.

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