Simon Wiesenthal Center Joins with Manhattan DA Vance and Community Activists to Urge Companies to Help Authorities Access Encrypted Messages that Impact Terrorism and Crimes

April 18, 2016

The Simon Wiesenthal Center joined Cyrus R. Vance, Jr, District Attorney of New York County, on the steps of City Hall to add the Human Rights NGO’s voice urging social media companies to help authorities access encrypted messages connected to terrorism and crimes.

Photo: Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. with advocates & victims calling for encryption legislation. Museum of Tolerance NY Program Manager, Stacey Eliuk at podium. Courtesy Manhattan DA Office

“We can’t leave this balancing test between privacy and public safety simply up to the companies ... Otherwise we’re asking law enforcement to do its job with both hands tied behind its back,” said DA Cyrus Vance.

“Like Manhattan DA Vance, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is not opposed to encryption and of course wants to protect the privacy of every law-abiding person,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “But blocking access to critical information related to terrorism, murder, and other serious crimes is unacceptable. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently released its 2016 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), which highlighted the use of encryption by terrorists and their supporters.” (Access report

Photo: The Center's Digital Terrorism & Hate 2016 Report Card

"We reiterate our call to all social media companies, including those who offer encryption apps to ensure they can retain the potential to get access to encrypted messages and turn them over to authorities after they have obtained a warrant from a judge for such information. The cooperation of all companies — starting with Apple and Google — is critical to ensuring terrorists aren’t able to cloak their online training, recruitment and command and control of terrorist operations. Further, we all have a moral obligation to ensure perpetrators of severe felonies aren’t able to avoid the bar of justice because of encryption technologies,” Cooper concluded.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook,, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).