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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly been unable to get into one of the smartphones owned by the accused mass shooter who opened fire on a strip of bars and restaurants in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4, killing nine people and injuring 27 others.
According to the Hill, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich told Congressional lawmakers that the phone of the suspected shooter, 24-year-old Connor Betts, is protected by a passcode.
“We don’t know when we are going to get into the phone,” Bowdich reportedly told the lawmakers.
Bowdich went on to state that if the shooter used a six- to eight-digit passcode, it could take the agency months or even years to gain access to the device.
The shooter was killed by police at the scene shortly after his attack.
While it remains unclear what model of phone the FBI is referring to, reports indicate that the shooter owned “multiple phones.”
The FBI was, however, able to access a Samsung device said to belong to the shooter.
The news comes just one month after Attorney General William Barr called for encryption backdoors to allow law enforcement to access people’s private data.
The phone issue is reminiscent of that following the 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California, where the FBI attempted to compel Apple to create a backdoor in order to access one of the shooters’ phones. Although the FBI repeatedly claimed that there was no other way to access the phone, the agency eventually paid a third party to successfully break into the device.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.