The FBI overstated the issue of accessing smartphones

“A programming error led the FBI to vastly overstate the number of cell phones that investigators could not access because of encryption, officials said Wednesday,” The Associated Press reports.

“Director Chris Wray has repeatedly said in speeches that nearly 7,800 mobile devices seized during investigations couldn’t be opened due to digital encryption in fiscal year 2017,” AP reports. “But officials said they have determined that that number is incorrect and a result of ‘significant over-counting’ from three separate databases that the bureau uses.”

“The officials did not provide a more accurate number, but The Washington Post, which first reported the problem, said the actually tally was probably between 1,000 and 2,000,” AP reports. “The FBI says it’s studying the issue and trying to figure out how to correct its methodology.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Regardless of the actual number, encryption is binary. It’s either on or off. There is no such thing as a backdoor that’s only for “the good guys.”


  1. “…There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!…” Cosmo from Sneakers

    One of the big reasons that government access to digital devices and services must be curtailed is that the government is far, far less trustworthy than google or facebook or Apple or anyone else.

    Companies are in the information business to make money. The government seeks information to gain power. Power over YOU.

    They may truly believe that they seek power to PROTECT you, but power is power and it can be used in anyway the government sees fit. We saw this often under the Obama administration. They were not afraid to use the FBI, IRS, or Justice Department to suit their needs.

    As they continue to collect contact lists, we should all be concerned with the conclusions agencies that exist to be paranoid can draw from our different degrees of separation from one another. As you sit there happily in the bliss of ignorance, a box with your name and a question mark could be on some special agent’s whiteboard as they build a case against who knows.

  2. The continued bad attitude by #MyStupidGovernment toward We The People appalls me, hoodwinking us like we’re morons, easily manipulated. NOPE! Not all of us!

    The current list of lies told to We The People is already beyond comprehension, and there are more every day. This is not MY America. It’s idiocracy.

  3. Overstating the number of inaccessible iPhones by six times the real number cannot be dismissed as an innocent mistake, the only credible explanation is that it was a cynical lie.

    People really need to hold officials to account and even more so to hold elected officials to account. Lying is not acceptable in public office. If your job is investigation, then you need to be truthful and accurate when making public statements. If you’re an elected official, telling blatant lies is utterly unacceptable. It’s all about credibility and trust. You squander it at your peril.

    If I deal with a representative of a company who tries to deceive me, I have nothing more to do with that company. If a government official lies, I don’t trust the department which allows them to get away with it. When politicians lie, they must be publicly called out and shown to be the liars which they are.

    1. Somebody told a programmer to figure out how many phones were listed on all the separate lists maintained by law enforcement agencies. He somehow ignored the possibility that the same phone might appear on multiple lists.

      When he reported an unexpectedly high figure, that fit the agency preconception that this is a huge problem, so it took awhile before somebody bothered to doublecheck. When they did, they issued a correction.

      First Corrolary to Occam’s Law: Never attribute to malice what can be more simply explained by incompetence.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.