FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey ac­know­ledged Wed­nes­day that de­term­ined ter­ror­ists and crim­in­als will al­ways have ways to hide their com­mu­nic­a­tions from the gov­ern­ment.

Even if Con­gress re­quires U.S. tech com­pan­ies to guar­an­tee ac­cess to their devices and ser­vices, there will likely still be for­eign com­pan­ies that of­fer strong en­cryp­tion, Comey said dur­ing a Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing. And soph­ist­ic­ated ter­ror­ists could even build their own en­cryp­ted mes­saging apps, he ad­mit­ted. En­cryp­tion scrambles com­mu­nic­a­tions, leav­ing only mean­ing­less gib­ber­ish to any­one who doesn’t have the right “key” to un­lock the mes­sage.

“I think there’s no way we solve this en­tire prob­lem,” Comey ac­know­ledged. “En­cryp­tion is al­ways go­ing to be avail­able to the soph­ist­ic­ated user.”

The ad­mis­sion may seem to un­der­mine Comey’s push for broad­er gov­ern­ment ac­cess to data. But, ac­cord­ing to the FBI chief, even though there’s no per­fect solu­tion, it’s still worth mak­ing it harder for ter­ror­ists to es­cape sur­veil­lance.

“The prob­lem we face post-Snowden is, it’s moved from be­ing avail­able to the soph­ist­ic­ated bad guy to be­ing the de­fault. And so it’s af­fect­ing every crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tion. I agree there’s no way to solve this en­tire prob­lem, but I still think it’s worth try­ing to solve a big chunk of it.”

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