The FBI says it is unable to break the encryption on a phone used by the couple who killed 14 people in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, according to FBI Director James Comey.
“We still have one of those killers’ phones that we haven’t been able to open,” said Comey at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee this week. “It has been two months now and we are still working on it.”
The make and model of phone used was not disclosed at the hearing, but the difficulty in cracking the phone suggests a fairly recent iPhone or Android device that has full disk encryption. Once a passcode is set, many devices are practically impossible for a third party to break into. Apple has also claimed it can’t crack an iPhone with iOS 8 or 9 even when given a warrant.
Comey said that encrypted phones and messaging services are making it tougher to purse many investigations and surveillance. He denied wanting backdoors, but insisted they the mobile companies should be able to provide data access when presented with court orders.
“I don’t want a back door… I would like people to comply with court orders, and that is the conversation I am trying to have,” he said.
Many people in US businesses and government are currently arguing over whether smartphone makers like Apple should be legally required to provide a way around such encryption. Recently, the ENCRYPT Act became a proposed bill that would prevent individual states from mandating decryption support…
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.