By the Blouin News Technology staff

Should the F.B.I. use third parties to access data?

by in Personal Tech.

The Apple - FBI Electronic Encryption Fight RGB Triptych v1.3. (Source: Surian Soosay/flickr)

The Apple – FBI Electronic Encryption Fight RGB Triptych v1.3. (Source: Surian Soosay/flickr)

The Apple/F.B.I. debacle has been about more than just encryption and gaining access to user communications; it has opened the floodgates of confusion and debate over the integration of public and private sector work in privacy. Questions now include: To what extent should the government use third parties to achieve their technological goals? The F.B.I. told Congress on Tuesday during a hearing that it has a massive challenge ahead of itself — even after using a third party to break into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone — in that it does not have the tools to access information and evidence from encrypted devices. The future of its reliance on the private sector remains unclear.

The New York Times reports that Amy Hess, the F.B.I.’s executive assistant director for science and technology did not provide details on how the agency ultimately gained access to the iPhone in question, but she told Congress that the agency has “come to rely on private sector partners to keep up with changes in technology”. She said that the F.B.I. encountered passwords in 30% of the phones is has seized during the last six months, and investigators have had “no capability” to access information in about 13% of the cases…

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