The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for more information about its capability to gain access to encrypted information stored on personal mobile devices.
The lawsuit will reportedly seek to target information related to the FBI’s Electronic Device Analysis Unit (EDAU) and its possession of software that would enable the government to unlock and decrypt information that is otherwise securely stored on mobile phones.
U.S. non-profit ACLU sues FBI for information about iPhone encryption breaking capabilities
“The FBI is secretly breaking the encryption that secures our cell phones and laptops from identity thieves, hackers, and abusive governments,” the ACLU said in a statement announcing the suit, “and it refuses to even acknowledge that it has information about these efforts.”
The non-profit organization said that public information indicates that the Electronic Device Analysis Unit (EDAU) has acquired or is in the process of acquiring software that allows the U.S. government to unlock and decrypt information that is securely stored on mobile phones.
According to public court records, there have been cases where the EDAU appeared capable of accessing encrypted information from a locked iPhone. The EDAU even tried to hire an electronics engineer whose primary obligations would include “perform (ing) forensic extractions and advanced data recovery on locked and damaged devices.”
However, the FBI refuses to confirm or deny the existence of any records related to the EDAU, the organization said. “Seeking some much-needed transparency, today we asked a federal court to intervene and order the DOJ (US Department of Justice) and the FBI to turn over all responsive documents pertaining to the EDAU,” the ACLU said.
“We’re demanding the government release records concerning any policies applicable to the EDAU, its technological capabilities to unlock or access electronic devices, and its requests for, purchases of, or uses of software that could enable it to bypass encryption,” the ACLU declared in a statement.
The FBI has tried pressing Apple into building a backdoor into its system on numerous occasions, most notably in the San Bernardino case, The Verge reported on Wednesday.
The agency has claimed that some of the tech giant’s security features prevented it from accessing the contents of the phone of one of the shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino attack before saying in 2016 that the agency no longer needed Apple’s help in breaking into the iPhone.