As a Lawyer, Christopher Wray Defended End-to-End Encryption; As FBI Director, He Opposes It

Nicole Perlroth and Adam Goldman, New York Times:

As recently as last month, Christopher A. Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was pushing tech companies like Facebook to give law enforcement access to what he called “warrant-proof encryption.”


But a new wrinkle surfaced in the government’s arguments late Wednesday, after court documents in a separate matter between WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and NSO Group, an Israeli spyware maker, revealed that Mr. Wray’s law firm previously argued in favor of strong end-to-end encryption while representing WhatsApp in a sealed 2015 case involving the Justice Department.

Neither the Times nor CyberScoop have published a copy of this court filing in their reports, and PACER still indicates that these filings are sealed. It remains a mystery to me why journalists do not share their copies of these documents, thereby requiring that anyone interested in their contents has to go spelunking through PACER.

“Director Wray cannot comment on the scope of his prior representation of WhatsApp or the legal advice he provided to the company,” the F.B.I. said in a statement. “Like all other lawyers, his duty of loyalty was to his client, and he did not put his personal views ahead of his clients’ interests or allow them to affect the legal work he did for clients. Today, as director of the FBI, his duty is to act in the best interests of the American people.”

It does not surprise me that Wray’s position as a lawyer was absolute and in favour of his client; it is frustrating now to read his unambiguous, inflexible remarks as a public official. It is dishonest — and he knows that.