Jan 9, 2018

FBI head: Ability to break encryption is “urgent public safety issue”

FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

FBI Director Christopher Wray says law enforcement's difficulty in accessing data from a criminal suspect's devices is an “urgent public safety issue,” Reuters reports. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, law enforcement failed to access approximately 7,800 devices’ data despite having legal authority to do so.

Why it matters: This pits law enforcement against privacy and security advocates in a debate that has come up time and time again, including in the aftermath of violent attacks like the Texas church shooting. The Justice Department and Apple have battled over this issue before.

Big picture, per Reuters:

  • Technology companies and security experts claim that simply providing a method to open a criminal suspect’s phone would leave users more vulnerable to hackers.
  • Wray admits the solution to the competing interests isn’t obvious, but says “I just do not buy the claim that it is impossible.”

Go deeper

Sanders takes aim at Bloomberg: "Trump will chew him up and spit him out"

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders told CBS "60 Minutes" that he was surprised by Mike Bloomberg's lackluster performance at Wednesday's Democratic debate.

What he's saying: "If that's what happened in a Democratic debate, you know, I think it's quite likely that Trump will chew him up and spit him out."

Scoop: Lyft acquires cartop advertising startup Halo Cars

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lyft has acquired Halo Cars, a small startup that lets ride-hailing drivers earn money via ad displays mounted atop their cars. Lyft confirmed the deal but declined to share any details.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing companies are increasingly eyeing additional ways to generate revenue, and Lyft rival Uber has been quietly testing a partnership with New York-based Cargo that gives it a cut of the advertising revenue, as I previously reported.

Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.