FBI reportedly overestimated inaccessible encrypted phones by thousands

The FBI seems to have been caught fibbing again on the topic of encrypted phones. FBI director Christopher Wray estimated in December that it had almost 7,800 phones from 2017 alone that investigators were unable to access. The real number is likely less than a quarter of that, The Washington Post reports.

Internal records cited by sources put the actual number of encrypted phones at perhaps 1,200 but perhaps as many as 2,000, and the FBI told the paper in a statement that “initial assessment is that programming errors resulted in significant over-counting of mobile devices reported.” Supposedly having three databases tracking the phones led to devices being counted multiple times.

Such a mistake would be so elementary that it’s hard to conceive of how it would be possible. These aren’t court notes, memos or unimportant random pieces of evidence, they’re physical devices with serial numbers and names attached. The idea that no one thought to check for duplicates before giving a number to the director for testimony in Congress suggests either conspiracy or gross incompetence.

The latter seems more likely after a report by the Office of the Inspector General that found the FBI had failed to utilize its own resources to access locked phones, instead suing Apple and then hastily withdrawing the case when its basis (a locked phone from a terror attack) was removed. It seems to have chosen to downplay or ignore its own capabilities in order to pursue the narrative that widespread encryption is dangerous without a backdoor for law enforcement.

An audit is underway at the Bureau to figure out just how many phones it actually has that it can’t access, and hopefully how this all happened.

It is unmistakably among the FBI’s goals to emphasize the problem of devices being fully encrypted and inaccessible to authorities, a trend known as “going dark.” That much it has said publicly, and it is a serious problem for law enforcement. But it seems equally unmistakable that the Bureau is happy to be sloppy, deceptive or both in its advancement of a tailored narrative.

Big night for women as 4 states vote ahead of midterms

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Wombat stabbed 13 times in brutal animal killing at Tharwa Sanwash

Meghan's first outing as a Duchess: Harry's new bride gets the giggles after her husband is stung by a bee during his speech at Charles's 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace Get out! Judge sides with parents trying to evict their unemployed millennial 30-year-old son from their family home after he refused to pay rent or do chores Trump administration wants to reverse rules barring hunters from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot hibernating mothers and cubs Now Trump says it would be an 'insult' and 'illegal' if the FBI had 'spies' in his campaign as he tasks Kelly with opening up documents for Congress There was ANOTHER 'informant' trying to infiltrate Trump campaign claims former aide who has long history of ties to Russia Security fears over Trump's cell phone as devices revealed to go unchecked for months AND have camera and microphones ... (more)

Teen suspect in Maryland officer’s slaying held without bail

Teen suspect in Maryland officer's slaying held without bailA 16-year-old who was supposed to be on house arrest for auto theft was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the death of a Maryland police officer. After hearing about Dawnta Anthony Harris' numerous recent run-ins with the law, a judge called him a "one-man crime wave" and ordered the teen held without bail. More than 20 police officers were in the courtroom when Harris made his first court appearance by video.


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Alexa gets smarter about calendar appointments

As digital assistants improve, we’re learning new things to expect from them, but the tasks that a real-life assistant may have handled before can still be a bit of a challenge to home assistants.

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is gaining functionality to help it get smarter about working with your calendar. The new abilities will let users move appointments around and schedule meetings based on other people’s availability.

If you’ve been shared on someone’s calendar availability, Alexa will be able to suggest times that work for both of you. Just say, “Alexa schedule a meeting with [name]” and Amazon’s assistant will search through your schedule for a good time, suggesting up to two time slots that could work.

On a more basic feature level, Alexa won’t make you cancel appointments and reschedule them if a meeting time changes. You’ll be able to just ask Alexa to move an existing meeting, something that should have probably been supported from the beginning, but hey, better late than never.

Both of these features are available to U.S. users today.