Leading prosecutors in CA, NY and DC advocate end-to-end encryption

We should all be able to have a private conversation and it follows that we need ways to communicate privately online as well. In the digital world, end-to-end encryption is our best chance to maintain our privacy and security.

In the tense legal landscape after the US Supreme Court Dobbs decision, digital privacy around reproductive health has become critical. Several states are already enforcing abortion bans, and the Brennan Center for Justice has found this to be the case more than 100 state bills introduced in 2022 to further restrict access to abortion. At the same time, many states, including California and New York, have taken steps to protect or expand abortion rights, including for people from other states. In this month’s elections, voters in California, Michigan and Vermont the right to abortion is enshrined in their national constitutions.

In recent months we have been pleased to receive testimonies from Attorneys General new York, Californiaand Washington, D.Call advise citizens to use end-to-end encrypted services when seeking abortion services.

These statements are good advice for consumers. Notably, these statements by elected law enforcement officials seeking to protect their own constituents’ right to proper health care are at odds with some federal agencies, including the FBI and the Ministry of Justicewho have tried circumvent or weaken encrypted services.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said California will be a “safe haven” for anyone seeking reproductive health care and he urged those seeking an abortion across state lines to take steps to protect their privacy. “Every day you leave a digital trail when you access an app, website or even search online,” said Bonta in a September statement. “If you are traveling to California from a state that does not protect the right to vote, this information could be used to put you at risk.”

In August, Nebraska police received an arrest warrant over Facebook messages between a mother and daughter used the news as evidence to prosecute abortion allegations against the two women.

After the indictment in Nebraska, the Washington DC Attorney General issued a second consumer warning Advising people to use end-to-end encryption when discussing abortion services.

“While abortion remains entirely legal in the District, consumers and abortion seekers should be aware of how others may use their information and should take steps to protect themselves and their information and privacy to the greatest extent possible,” it says in the statement.

At EFF, we have stood firm against officials who have called for undermining encryption. Strong encryption doesn’t conflict with law enforcement—it’s critical to true public safety.

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