Over the past 11-months, the FBI according to its Director, Christopher Wray, has failed to unlock 7,000 devices. That is thousands of smartphones, tablets, and others which are pertinent to on-going investigations. That figure according to officially released figures amounts to a near 50-percent FBI unlock fail rate.
FBI Unlock Failures a Big Problem
Recently, Wray attended the Association of Chief of Police Conference. While there, he spoke of his frustration with the nature of device encryption.
He referred to it as:
“A huge, huge problem, for the FBI, and its investigations.”
What Can Be Done?
Unfortunately for government agencies like the FBI, and others around the world, it appears very little can be done. Yes, there probably should be a balance between device encryption and the need to investigate crimes. However, it appears this point is falling on death ears when it comes to manufacturers.
At the conference, Wray pointed out:
“Other agencies and we need the tools to keep the public safe.”
Although, that is extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon, as encryption is here to stay. In fact, all of the big tech companies across the world have resisted FBI unlock requests. Meaning that they prefer to put the privacy of their customers above the need to investigate.
It’s a Trust Problem
So, it appears that for the time being, law enforcement will have to cope with an increasing amount of encryption. Even if manufacturers are somehow prevented from including it at purchase, software which does the same is readily available.
The Fight Will Continue
One of the most prominent spats of the last few years was the FBI unlock fight with Apple. At that time, the agency used all of its will and power to pressure Apple to give it access. At the time, Apple’s apparent none cooperation caused controversy, especially as it was related to a terrorist attack.
However, the Cupertino-based outfit stood its ground on privacy concerns and the FBI turned to a private company for help. How much did that help cost the U.S taxpayer? It was recently revealed, indirectly, a figure of $900,000 was paid.
As for the specifics of the unlock, the FBI has revealed no information. However, unconfirmed reports have suggested that it will be able to re-use the same procedure in the future.