Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, has revealed that his organisation has failed to crack the security of almost 7,000 smartphones belonging to alleged miscreants in the past 11 months - and argued for more "responsible" encryption to protect (!) devices.
He claimed that unbreakable encryption poses a major threat to international security, and the fight against terrorism.
Wray was speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday.
The cause of this widespread failure is the move by manufacturers to hardware encryption that secures all the content on a device.
It's a tough position for both hardware makers and security agencies - reconciling people's right to privacy and protecting their communications, while security agencies also need to investigate criminal activity, provided they have justifiable and reasonable cause. It's a balance that Wray acknowledged.
"I get it, there's a balance that needs to be struck between encryption and the importance of giving us the tools we need to keep the public safe," Wray said, according to the BBC.
What makes the situation even trickier is that even if device makers decided to completely remove encryption by default, third-party apps would still make it simple enough to achieve for users.
The comments by Wray aren't entirely surprising - the FBI became embroiled in a high-profile case last year when it requested access to the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone 5C, but Apple refused to play ball.
The FBI ultimately withdrew the request once it managed to secure access by other means. This year, following Freedom of Information requests, a judge ruled that the FBI doesn't have to disclose how it gained access to the phone.
Although device encryption is different from the end-to-end encryption that secures communications in transit (rather than data on hardware) the latter has been called upon to be banned in the UK.
Indeed, Home Secretary Amber Rudd suggested in August this year that only terrorists require encryption. No doubt that's an opinion that would change fairly swiftly if Rudd's own communications were being routinely snooped upon.
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