FBI repeatedly overstating encryption threat figures to Congress and to the U.S. public is sloppy, but privacy is critical even if the number was one.
The FBI wants companies like Apple to provide back doors into operating systems like iOS, and one of the reasons is the number of encrypted devices the bureau has and wants access to. But, that number may not be what the FBI has been reporting.
From The Washington Post:
The FBI has repeatedly provided grossly inflated statistics to Congress and the public about the extent of problems posed by encrypted cellphones, claiming investigators were locked out of nearly 7,800 devices connected to crimes last year when the correct number was much smaller, probably between 1,000 and 2,000, The Washington Post has learned.
I know some people will latch onto the numbers or the errors in counting. But I don’t think we should be distracted by that. The right to privacy shouldn’t vary if it’s one person or everybody. That’s what makes it a right.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: smartphones are the closest thing we have to cybernetic enhancements. They’re the external drives for our brains. They need to enjoy some type of protection akin to privilege but closer to the self-incrimination. Because one day we’ll have internal cybernetics and one day the brain’s encryption will be broken, and if we haven’t worked out how we’re going to treat our most private thoughts and ideas by then, we’ll be in real trouble.
So, yes, the number matters but only in terms of providing accurate statistics, not in terms of deciding what’s right and what’s wrong.
VECTOR | Rene Ritchie
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