Edward Snowden's revelations about the U.S. government's spying activities spurred advanced encryption technologies by "about seven years," National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Monday during a talk hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Commercially available software has become so sophisticated so rapidly, Clapper added, that it is a "major inhibitor" to the government's ability to collect intelligence on terrorists.
"From our standpoint," Clapper said, "it's not a good thing."
But in interviews with NBC News, digital rights and security experts were puzzled over how intelligence officials arrived at the seven-year figure.
"He's speculating on what would have happened if what happened didn't happen," said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy director of Access Now. "I'm not sure what metric he's using."