FBI 'Grossly Inflated' Statistics on Investigations Stymied by Encrypted Smartphones

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, May 22, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation provided Congress with "grossly inflated" statistics on the number of electronic devices it has been been unable to access due to encryption, reports The Washington Post.

    Last year, the FBI claimed to have been locked out of close to 7,800 devices that were connected to crimes, but the actual number of devices that were inaccessible is smaller, closer in scope to between 1,000 and 2,000. The FBI discovered an error in the method used for counting encrypted smartphones last month, and has not yet completed a full internal audit to determine the correct number.

    The FBI's inflated numbers are a problem because FBI director Christopher Wray has, at several points in time, used those statistics to warn of the dangers criminals using encryption to "go dark" and evade law enforcement oversight.

    Back in October, for example, Wray said the inability to access such a large number of encrypted smartphones was a major problem. "To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem," said Wray. "It impacts investigations across the board - narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation."

    In another such speech in January, Wray used the inflated figure to describe encryption as an "urgent public safety issue."
    These kinds of statistics have also been used by the FBI to advocate for backdoors into encrypted devices like the iPhone.

    In 2016, for example, Apple and the FBI had now-famous dispute over the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The FBI demanded that Apple create a tool to allow law enforcement officials to disable passcode security features so they could hack into the device, effectively weakening its protection.

    Apple staunchly refused and argued that such a request could set a "dangerous precedent," a position the company has maintained since then as law enforcement officials have continued to advocate for backdoor device access.

    Apple, as part of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, recently released a statement condemning proposals for backdoors into electronic devices, and in March, Apple engineering chief Craig Federighi said that backdoor access would "inject new and dangerous weaknesses into product security."

    "Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses or even manage vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems," Federighi said.

    Despite the FBI's error counting the number of encrypted devices it has been unable to access during criminal investigations, the agency maintained that encryption is a "serious problem" in a statement to The Washington Post.

    "Going Dark remains a serious problem for the FBI, as well as other federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners. ... The FBI will continue pursuing a solution that ensures law enforcement can access evidence of criminal activity with appropriate legal authority."

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: FBI 'Grossly Inflated' Statistics on Investigations Stymied by Encrypted Smartphones
  2. Z400Racer37 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
    ... Well obviously they were practicing counting by 7's or 8's... Because, you know, for our protection....
  3. PotatoLeekSoup macrumors regular

    May 10, 2015
    I am shocked! (I'm not shocked.) Standard M.O. for them.
  4. JPLC macrumors 6502

    Dec 20, 2011
    This is like the FBI asking you to not lock your door so they don’t have to kick it in when they are after you.

  5. flyinmac macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    Investigation to determine the correct number. Lol

    Ummm.... yeah let me hit sort on the database. Oh there we go... number is...

    Or we can pay someone to go count them manually and then pay to investigate whether he had a motive to miscount. Then we’ll have another guy count. Then we’ll ask the Democrats if they want to protest our count. Then we’ll check to see if Russia might have paid any of our people to miscount. And then we’ll accuse Republicans of conspiring to alter the count. And then we’ll investigate Trump. Trump will investigate the Democrats. We’ll find out that Hillary deleted the database when nobody was looking, and then Putin will get blamed for the miscount. And Apple will increase security while failing to close the back door.

    In the end, we’ll determine that it was actually a billion phones, and that Apple refusing to hand over the keys to the back door cost the country 50 trillion dollars in investigation expenses.
  6. WarHeadz macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2015
    Long Beach, California
  7. Scottsoapbox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2014
    What!?! The government lied to make its position seem better? :eek::eek::eek:

    Did anyone expect something else?
  8. Mansu944 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2012
    How the mighty have fallen. I’m still glad they’re on our side but distrust in the FBI is only growing. This is just like how they wanted to help trump...not spy on him.
  9. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
  10. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    Seems like a strategically timed topic. Is this the first of a long line of criticisms of our intelligence community in light of the new investigation into the Russia investigators?
  11. Aloft085 macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2014
    FBI credibility keeps taking hits lately. We need more oversight of this agency and similar ones in the federal government.
  12. TonyC28 macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2009
    Go home FBI, you're drunk.
    Good lord can they take a break and stop stepping on their own d---- for a little while.
  13. DoctorTech macrumors 6502


    Jan 6, 2014
    Indianapolis, IN
    I think the FBI is too busy violating attorney-client privileges, shredding documents, and bit bleaching text messages between anti-Trump "agents with benefits" to waste time getting an accurate count on cell phones. Besides, the grossly exaggerated number made their case for backdoors look better. Its funny how all their "mistakes" always seem to benefit their side of the argument. In statistics, when numbers are consistently off in the same direction it is called "bias."

    Too bad we don't have an Attorney General to provide some adult supervision, this agency desperately needs it.
  14. Analog Kid, May 22, 2018
    Last edited: May 22, 2018

    Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    The actual number seems moot. Questions like this should be about "allowed" or "not allowed", it doesn't make a difference how many there are.

    I've an opinion on which way it should be, but I suspect someone who disagrees with me also feels like this is about one as much as it's about many.
  15. trusso macrumors 6502

    Oct 4, 2003
    FBI? Credibility? The United States' intelligence agencies have long and dubious histories, all of them. Every now and again they earn their keep, but generally, they're staffed by bureaucrats and run by narcissists. The U.S. intelligence apparatus would turn itself into the Gestapo if it could (and may very well do so, given enough time). :confused:

  16. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    ..and while this 'going dark' is a constant issue for the FBI, they still have been able to solve those crimes..

    Go figure :D Although i welcome getting into devices *may* solve issues, there is another way,,, its not the *only* way.
  17. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000


    Oct 22, 2014
    known but velocity indeterminate
    Those great technical experts, can't select distinct across several tables but can tell us how to secure our technology from everyone except them.
  18. FrenchRoasted macrumors regular


    Sep 21, 2016
    Who will do that? Another gov agency? The state will oversee itself to make sure it behaves, yeah that has always worked in the past.
  19. PaulRustad007 macrumors 6502


    Jun 3, 2015
    There is oversight....Congress. And they are finally growing a pair and FORCING them to cooperate with everything. About time......these unelected bureaucracies are becoming a problem for us, the average Citizen that pays taxes.....time to reign them in.
  20. trusso macrumors 6502

    Oct 4, 2003
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? :rolleyes:

    The pop culture reference may seem glib, but its essence is more true than most of us would like to believe.
  21. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
  22. Garsun macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2009
    “Going dark” is seriously inconvenient for foreign governments and hackers as well
  23. kingalexthe1st macrumors 6502


    Apr 13, 2013
    american law enforcement fudging numbers to keep fear among the population. what a surprise.

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