Law Enforcement Again Finds Themselves In A Situation Where They Can’t Unlock A Mass Shooter’s Phone

The recent mass shooting in a Texas church has been making headlines since Sunday. But related to that is a problem that law enforcement has faced before. The inability to unlock the shooter’s phone to get to critical data that could help in their investigation. News.com has the details on this:

An official said at a press conference Tuesday that the FBI is unable to open the phone of Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 people and injured 20 more at a Texas church on Sunday. 

The phone is encrypted, meaning the information inside is unreadable without a passcode. The FBI didn’t say what kind of phone the shooter used.

“With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement — whether at a state, local or federal level — is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” said Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge.

This is the same sort of situation that the FBI found itself in with the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, which in turn led to a protracted legal battle with Apple. But in the end they unlocked the phone with the help of a third party. Not only that, but apparently the FBI has been unable to get into thousands of phones which is making it difficult for them to investigate crimes.

Now I have to admit that I struggle with this. On one hand, I see the need for law enforcement to have the ability to get into phones to help them to put bad guys in jail. But at the same time, I don’t think that anyone should have a free pass to look at anything on a phone. Nor should Apple, Google or anyone else build backdoors into their phones for law enforcement. It’s a tricky balance I admit and I am not sure how you get the balance right. But hopefully there’s reasonable discussion about this that leads to that balance.

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One Response to “Law Enforcement Again Finds Themselves In A Situation Where They Can’t Unlock A Mass Shooter’s Phone”

  1. Valentine Stubbs Says:

    In as much to accessing anyone’s cell phone.
    Look at it this way, your brain and everyone has
    one, (used or not), how would you feel if law enforcement could access the computer you where born with. Hopefully that tech dose not exist, and if
    someone actually managed to do it I would hope that it would never see the light of day. In today’s overloaded day we need to augment our natural storage with tech. Even though external from our physical body, and even if the connection interface is ocular when put things that might be safe in our brain in pieces of tech doesn’t change the fact that we should have total control of our thoughts and feelings

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