FBI Exaggerated the Number of Inaccessible Phones in its Reports to Congress, Presumably by Thousands
According to one of the most reputable U.S. papers, the FBI discovered the miscount about a month ago, but an accurate calculation hasn’t been carried out yet. In the recent statement, the FBI said that presumably, “programming errors resulted in significant over-counting of mobile devices reported.” The bureau’s officials assume that the errors occurred due to the use of three separate databases, however unbelievable it might sound. The people familiar with the matter also say that the tests conducted in 2016 didn’t detect any malfunction.
The fact that the FBI provided overblown statistics to Congress several times means that either its staff had been unable to check for duplicates, or it was a purposeful act. The first suggestion seems fairer in the light of another report submitted in March by the Office of the Inspector General revealing the FBI’s incapability to access locked phones using their available resources. That said, it could also be a case of a deliberate downplay with a view on addressing what is called “Going Dark” — the proliferation of encrypted software obstructing the investigators’ access to the digital data.
The case now will be audited and the FBI plans to provide the actual figures to Congress. They will hopefully include a detailed explanation of how it all happened, too.