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

iPhone PasscodeThe 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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Top Rated Comments

MikhailT Avatar
86 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)
WolfSnap Avatar
86 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)
MacNut Avatar
86 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)
terrywfoster Avatar
86 months ago
The feds no NOT need in our phones. PERIOD!
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
86 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)
MacNut Avatar
86 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)