Ron Wyden Just Used Rap Genius to Troll the FBI Director


FBI Director James Comey says encryption is hurting national security and helping ISIS. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is calling BS—and using a rap lyrics site to do it.

Comey spent Wednesday in front of Congress, arguing that law enforcement agencies face a growing threat from people who use encrypted messages—even though the government couldn’t say how big the threat actually is now. He also gave a preview of his argument in a post on Monday at Lawfare, an influential blog on national security law. “There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption,” he wrote. “Part of my job is make sure the debate is informed by a reasonable understanding of the costs.”

Wyden, a loud and frequent critic of government surveillance, apparently didn’t find Comey’s arguemnt quite that reasonable. So, using Genius, a popular site for annotating and explaining song lyrics, his office tore apart the FBI chief’s blog post with some snarky notes.

“Security doors and safes also make it more difficult to access a person’s possessions, but Director Comey has not proposed banning wall safes or weakening locks,” said one. “That would rightly be seen as laughable.”

Another pointed out that cybersecurity experts think “backdoors”—purposeful security flaws that would allow the government to read encrypted messages—are actually terrible for security, giving criminals and foreign hackers the same potential access to private data as the US government.

“Universal strong encryption will protect Americans’ personal information AGAINST criminals, foreign governments and those who would use that data to do our country harm,” Wyden wrote. “It’s time to stop attacking the technology and start focusing on real solutions to the real threats facing our nation.”


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.