The FBI is asking Congress to give it new powers to force technology companies to turn over private information on their customers.
FBI Director James Comey warned Thursday that new technologies are making it easy for criminals to hide incriminating information from police.
"The FBI has a sworn duty to keep every American safe from crime and terrorism, and technology has become the tool of choice for some very dangerous people," Comey said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "Unfortunately, the law hasn't kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public -safety problem."
A 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, forces telephone companies to build surveillance technologies into their networks to allow law enforcement to install wiretaps. But the law hasn't been updated and doesn't cover new online forms of communication.
So even with a court order, police are struggling to get the information they need to investigate suspected murderers, drug dealers, and kidnappers, Comey said.
The FBI director urged Congress to update the law to "create a level playing field" so that companies like Google have to provide police the same access to information that AT&T and other phone providers do.