AWMAKERS ASK FBI WHY IT ISN'T GETTING BUSY CRACKING ITS STOCKPILE OF SEIZED SMARTPHONES blacklistednews.com

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AWMAKERS ASK FBI WHY IT ISN'T GETTING BUSY CRACKING ITS STOCKPILE OF SEIZED SMARTPHONES

Ever since the FBI began its "going dark" crusade, crucial questions have gone unanswered. Considering the budget and technical expertise the FBI has access to, why was it so necessary to get Apple to crack an iPhone's encryption for the Bureau? Turns out it wasn't. The FBI did have a solution, but the head of the division charged with cracking open the San Bernardino shooter's phone didn't want a technical solution. He wanted a courtroom solution.

The report that outed the FBI's general disinterest in using outside contractors to crack encrypted devices is now being used against the FBI. Ten (bipartisan) legislators have signed a letter demanding answers from the agency about its anti-encryption efforts. The "going dark" narrative continues to be pushed by director Christopher Wray, despite recent reports showing at least two vendors have tools that can crack any encrypted iPhones. The tools are also much cheaper than the ~$1 million the FBI spent to open the shooter's phone, which raises questions about the agency's fiscal responsibilities to taxpayers.

The letter [PDF] highlights portions of the Inspector General's report indicating the agency was less than motivated to find an outside solution while engaged in a legal battle with Apple. It also points to the thousands of devices the FBI says it can't access, despite the ready availability of vendor tools designed to do what the FBI continues to claim is impossible.

These are the questions the legislators want answered -- questions we've been asking for months:

Have you consulted with relevant third-party vendors to understand what tools are available to help the FBI access device content?

Do you agree that there are solutions available to help unlock or nearly every device on the market? If not, why are these solutions, particularly the ones discussed above, insufficient?

Why can't the FBI unlock the 7,800 devices? Have you attempted to use tools developed by third-parties to unlock these devices?

Of these locked phones, how many are equipped with biometrics or how many have data available through a cloud service, which would provide additional means to access data or unlock phones?

For each device that you have not used a third-party tool to unlock, what is the rationale for not doing so?

These are all reasonable questions. But the FBI has been anything but reasonable when it comes to device encryption. Its director continues to insist -- despite zero tech expert support -- that safe and secure encryption backdoors are possible and that it's willing to sacrifice the public's security for "public safety." The FBI's disingenuous actions show it can't be trusted to handle the encryption debate honestly. Hopefully, this letter will reset the "conversation" by giving stakeholders insight into the fight the FBI appears to be throwing in hopes of being bailed out by legislators or federal judges.

Published at Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:34:02 +0000

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