FBI Unable to Retrieve Encrypted Data From 6,900 Devices Over the Last 11 Months

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The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to retrieve data from 6,900 mobile devices that it attempted to access over the course of the last 11 months, reports the Associated Press.

FBI Director Christopher Wray shared the number at an annual conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Sunday.

During the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, Wray says the 6,900 devices that were inaccessible accounted for half of the total devices the FBI attempted to retrieve data from. Wray called the FBI's inability to get into the devices a "huge, huge problem."
"To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem," Wray said. "It impacts investigations across the board -- narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation."
Wray did not specify how many of the 6,900 devices the FBI could not access were iPhones or iPads running a version of Apple's iOS operating system, but encryption has been an issue between Apple and the FBI since last year when the two clashed over the unlocking of an iPhone 5c owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

The FBI took Apple to court in an attempt to force Apple to create a version of iOS that would disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, providing the FBI with the tools to hack into the device.

Apple refused and fought the court order, claiming the FBI's request could set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple ultimately did not capitulate and the FBI enlisted Israeli firm Cellebrite to crack the device.

Following the incident, there was a push for new encryption legislation, but it largely fizzled out after it was described by tech companies as "absurd" and "technically inept." Apple's fight with the FBI is far from over, though, as there was no final resolution following the San Bernardino dispute.

At the conclusion of the FBI lawsuit, Apple said the case "should never have been brought" and vowed to continue to increase the security of its products.

"Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one or the other only puts people and countries at greater risk," Apple said in a statement.

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Article Link: FBI Unable to Retrieve Encrypted Data From 6,900 Devices Over the Last 11 Months
 

MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
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There is a way around it; serve the warrant forcing people to enter the passcode. If they refuse, then they can serve jail time until they give up.

Companies should and must not be forced to weaken security just so governments can access the data. Governments are not entitled to everything, period.
 

MacNut

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Jan 4, 2002
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There is a way around it; serve the warrant forcing people to enter the passcode. If they refuse, then they can serve jail time until they give up.

Companies should and must not be forced to weaken security just so governments can access the data. Governments are not entitled to everything, period.
They need probable cause first. They can’t just get a warrant and demand you unlock your phone.
 

darksithpro

macrumors 6502a
Oct 27, 2016
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So it's the software corporations playing cat and mouse with the federal government, wonderful. You'd think instead of the government trying to crack the code of American companies, they'd get together and work out a rational solution. After all our government should on the same team with American corporations, working together, plugging bugs, and plugging zero day exploits.
 
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0007776

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There is a way around it; serve the warrant forcing people to enter the passcode. If they refuse, then they can serve jail time until they give up.
That doesn’t work in cases like the San Bernardino shooter where the owner of the phone is dead.

I’m not sure what the best trade off is, once you put a back door in it is open to abuse by the government or hackers figuring it out, but there are cases where access is needed, and many of the documents that investigators would have been able to find on paper in the past to help find connections when a suspect is dead have moved to our phones so just old fashioned police work won’t always cut it.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
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I understand people want to keep secret how much porn they have on their phone, but this is a big issue.
The government was able to track and arrest criminals long before there were smart phones. There are only 2 possible reason for the FBI wanting weak encryption; 1) they are just lazy, or 2) they just want to spy on everyone.

I disagree with both reasons.
 

ThunderSkunk

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Dec 31, 2007
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Ok. Well, there is probably some value in everyone getting to experience having the US Constitution shredded before their eyes and be treated like the very worst criminals among us by your own "representatives", as if the entire country is a prison and everyone is an inmate.

On the plus side, the very comfortable would finally see how much fun that is, and what it takes to put that murderous genie back in its bottle. On the down side, I guess the American people will have to ask themselves, do they really want to put themselves through that?

That's where it's heading, and has been making good progress toward that end for half a century, so I guess we'll all find out sooner or later.
 

Yakibomb

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May 13, 2014
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There is a way around it; serve the warrant forcing people to enter the passcode. If they refuse, then they can serve jail time until they give up.
If only it was that easy :rolleyes: Yes you can serve people with a warrant compelling them to enter their password, but under duress one could easily claim to have forgotten it. And I highly doubt a judge would convict solely based off a forgotten password, so no "jail time until they give up"