U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Brian A. Benczkowski advocated for policies that facilitate the cross-border transfer of critical information among law enforcement agencies investigating multinational criminal cyber networks.
In remarks delivered at the "Justice in Cyberspace" Symposium in Washington, DC, AAG Benczkowski stated that the most serious cybersecurity threats are not from "lone wol[f]" hackers but sophisticated multinational groups of cybercriminals. Within these criminal ecosystems, elements work to develop malware designed to steal personal and financial information, while others function in parallel to hunt for vulnerabilities within computer systems or to design malware that is undetectable.
To disrupt these criminal cyber networks, AAG Benczkowski advocated for policies that facilitate the cross-border transfer of critical information among law enforcement. According to AAG Benczkowski, investigations into cybercrime rely on electronic evidence, but as companies increasingly store data abroad, this evidence becomes more difficult to collect. To address this, he said that the DOJ is working to facilitate international evidence collection. In October, Attorney General William Barr signed the CLOUD Act agreement with the UK, which, if approved, would enable U.S. or UK law enforcement to serve communication services in the other country with court orders for electronic evidence. The U.S. has also strengthened cybercrime enforcement and international capacity-building partnerships by coordinating with Eurojust and Europol's European Cybercrime Center (or "EC3"). Additionally, the DOJ recently placed an International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Attorney-Advisor in The Hague to address the growing threat of cybercrime emanating from Eastern Europe.
AAG Benczkowski also addressed the investigatory challenges posed by encryption. He said that default encrypted devices and services can slow down or prevent law enforcement from accessing crucial electronic evidence, even in instances where a warrant has been obtained. Although AAG Benczkowski did not propose a solution, he noted that the DOJ will "continue to highlight this problem until a solution is reached that respects the rule of law and our constitutional order."
U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel entered into a cross-border agreement that "will dramatically speed up investigations by removing legal barriers to timely and effective collection of electronic evidence."