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

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.

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.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
38 months ago
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.
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago
This is why I'll only buy Apple devices. Literally, the only company I trust with my data right now is Apple.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago

I understand people want to keep secret how much porn they have on their phone, but this is a big issue.

Issue for who, the governments ability to spy on us.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago
The feds no NOT need in our phones. PERIOD!
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago

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.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
38 months ago

Really? So the next time hundreds of people get blown the **** up, and you find out this could've been prevented will you be saying the same thing?

I don't understand this mind set. I never will. The FBI doesn't give a **** about you and me. Are you planning to kill someone? They're looking for the people who will kill us and our families.

This is a problem that WILL eventually cause death and destruction, but thats fine right?

So we should give up freedom for the possibility of safety. In those terms the terrorists have won.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Rumor Report Card: Assessing the Accuracy of Leaks After Apple's Event

Friday September 18, 2020 12:57 pm PDT by
Apple hosted its virtual "Time Flies" event this week, where it introduced four new products, including the Apple Watch Series 6, lower-cost Apple Watch SE, a 10.9-inch iPad Air with an all-screen design, and an updated 10.2-inch iPad with a faster A12 Bionic chip. As expected, there were no new iPhones, which are believed to be coming in October instead. Apple also announced that it will be ...

Epic Games Announces 'Fortnite: Save the World' Will No Longer Be Playable on macOS

Friday September 18, 2020 4:50 am PDT by
Epic Games has announced that "Fortnite: Save the World" will no longer be playable on macOS, after Apple terminated Epic Games' developer account. Fortnite has been in violation of the ‌App Store‌ rules since August 13, when it introduced a direct payment option that skirted Apple's in-app purchase system by allowing payments directly to ‌Epic Games‌. Shortly after Epic blatantly...

Deals: Cellular Carriers Introduce First Offers on Apple Watch Series 6 and SE

Friday September 18, 2020 7:43 am PDT by
With the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE today, cellular carriers have now introduced special offers for these new wearable devices. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Starting with AT&T, if you buy one Apple Watch Series 3, Series...