FBI Director Christopher Wray has indicated that his agency is ready to wade back into the battle with Apple and other tech companies over access to encrypted data on devices involved in criminal and terrorist investigations.
“This is an urgent public safety issue,” Wray said at the International Conference on Cyber Security, according to Reuters. Encryption prevented the bureau from accessing data on nearly 4,000 devices in fiscal 2017, he told the assembled audience.
“I just do not buy the claim that it is impossible” to find a solution, Wray added.
This isn’t the first time that Wray has attempted to reignite debate over the issue, as he commented on the issue last October.
“To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem,” Wray said at the time. “It impacts investigations across the board narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation.”
The issue over encrypted device access has been absent from the public stage since 2016’s San Bernardino shooting, when the FBI attempted to force Apple to access the data on the shooter’s iPhone.
The government has long pushed Apple and other technology firms to offer encryption “backdoors” in their products that would allow access by law enforcement in cases such as the San Bernardino tragedy. For their part, the tech firms say such a backdoor would simply act as a backdoor for bad actors such as hackers to steal users’ personal data.