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Encryption Backdoor Debate: Why Would the FBI Exaggerate the Number of Criminal Devices?

Encryption Backdoor Debate: Why Would the FBI Exaggerate the Number of Criminal Devices?

fbi encryption debate
June 7, 2018 | Eva Hanscom

The FBI has been fairly open about their aversion toward encypted devices for quite some time. Director Christopher A. Wray has stated that encryption is a “major public safety issue” because last year they were locked out of roughly 7,800 devices connected to criminal activities.

However, new reports reveal that this number was dramatically inflated.

“The FBI first became aware of the miscount about a month ago and still does not have an accurate count of how many encrypted phones they received as part of criminal investigations last year,” writes Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post. “Last week, one internal estimate put the correct number of locked phones at 1,200, though officials expect that number to change as they launch a new audit, which could take weeks to complete, according to people familiar with the work.”

Christopher A. Wray has used these inflated numbers in the past to push for government mandated backdoors into encrypted devices. Unfortunately, these backdoors would pose a significant risk to the safety and privacy of US citizens and organizations.

“In light of the FBI’s ongoing demands for government-mandated encryption backdoors, this data really clarifies the scope of the problem,” says Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “The reality is that government mandated backdoors will allow cyber criminals to undermine all types of private, secure communications.”

Jeff continues: “With all of the rhetoric around this topic it’s easy to lose sight of the facts -- any government that mandates backdoors is no different from the world’s most authoritarian governments. At this moment, citizens in the United States have basic rights to privacy. But, if our government mandates backdoors that protection goes away.”

Do these inflated device numbers surprise you?

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About the author

Eva Hanscom
Eva Hanscom

Eva is Public Relations Manager at Venafi. She is passionate about educating the global marketplace about infosec and machine-identity issues, and in 2018 grew Venafi's global coverage by 45%.

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