Gigi Sohn Letter

NATIONAL NARCOTIC OFFICERS’ ASSOCIATIONS’ COALITION
455 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Box 112, Washington, DC 20001
www.nnoac.com


19 January 2022


The Honorable Maria E. Cantwell The Honorable Roger F. Wicker
Committee on Commerce, Science and Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation Technology
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Madam Chairman and Senator Wicker,

I am writing on behalf of the 60,000 members represented by the National Narcotic Officers’
Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC) to express our deep concern with the nomination of Gigi B. Sohn to
serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Based on the issues
outlined in this letter, the NNOAC strongly opposes the confirmation of Ms. Sohn to this important
position.

The members represented by the NNOAC and many others in the law enforcement community are very
concerned by the active and enthusiastic leadership role taken by Ms. Sohn as an Executive Board
member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and her involvement in EFF’s strong advocacy of
end-to-end encryption and “user only access” often referred to in the law enforcement policy world as
“going dark”. These encryption protocols for communications are causing federal state and local law
enforcement agencies to rapidly lose their capability to access information needed to protect the public
from crime, violence, and terrorism. This roadblock to lawful access occurs because the service providers,
with input from the EFF have embraced encryption technology that makes data completely inaccessible
even from the providers themselves. The EFF, and specifically Ms. Sohn’s advocacy for this encryption
technology and its support for additional barriers and restrictions to prevent law enforcement from
obtaining historically accessible information makes it extraordinarily difficult for law enforcement to
apprehend the dangerous criminals that we see highlighted on the nightly news.

Despite the ongoing efforts of the NNOAC and many other law enforcement organizations, neither
Federal law nor the FCC have requirements compelling the carriers to comply with law enforcement’s
lawful, (frequently court ordered) requests even when there is a threat to life. At a time, when we see
violence increasing dramatically across the nation, the American public deserves independent and
unbiased Commissioners at the FCC. Sadly, we believe that Ms. Sohn would bring the long-held beliefs
that she has promoted at the EFF to her role at the FCC and we fear that she would not be willing to
consider law enforcement’s position on “lawful access”.

The NNOAC and most other law enforcement associations and organizations including the FBI have
worked for many years to shine a light on the going dark issue. Countless hearings and briefings have
occurred to try to correct this serious problem. In a September 2021 hearing before the House and Senate

Homeland Committees entitled “Threats to the Homeland: Evaluating the Landscape 20 Years After
9/11” FBI Director Christopher Wray devoted a portion of his testimony to the need for lawful access. In
his statement, Director Wray cited an example of the terrorist attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola where
three U.S. sailors were murdered. Following that attack the FBI was unable to access any information
from the terrorist’s phones for months because the service providers employed “user only access”
technology and the suspects phone used an app with “end to end” encryption. Despite lawful search
warrants and the potential that additional attacks were imminent it took the FBI months to retrieve that
data from these devices. This failure of the FBI to lawfully access that encrypted data occurred because of
policies that the EFF have supported. Because Ms. Sohn continues to hold a leadership position with the
EFF and has long supported these policies that block law enforcement’s ability to protect the public, we
do not believe she can objectively perform the duties of an FCC Commissioner.
It is for the reasons stated above and in the interest of the safety of all Americans that we are urging you
and the members of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to reject the nomination of Gigi B. Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission.

On behalf of the law enforcement professionals represented by the National Narcotic Officers’
Associations’ Coalition I want to thank you for considering our views on this nominee. Please don’t
hesitate to contact me at bbushman@nnoac.com if can provide additional information on this matter or
any other issues involving law enforcement.

Sincerely,
Bob Bushman, President
National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition