The FBI has once more found itself locked out of the smartphone of a dead mass shooter, this time Texas church massacre suspect Devin Kelly. Unless the feds find some kind of workaround to allow access without undermining the core encryption protections afforded by consumer devices, this incident could ignite another battle between the FBI and the tech community over the tensions between user security and law enforcement access.
The issue is a tender one. In the spring of 2016, the FBI and Apple engaged in a fraught standoff over the encryption question following the 2015 terrorist attack at San Bernardino. The battle played out both in the public and the courts, with the FBI arguing that Apple had a duty to compel its engineers to intentionally break security features in order to access data on the locked devices of deceased shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Apple stood firm, refusing to compromise any of its devices and instead seeking to find alternative means to assist law enforcement.
The most recent shooting at a Texas church contains all of the elements to create yet another battle royale between law enforcement and security professionals. Andrea O'Sullivan explains more.