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The FBI must develop 21st-century investigative savvy

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The FBI must develop modern technological capacities rather than relying on out-of-date approaches, Susan Landau argues in this Policy Forum, zeroing in on the organization's recent request to Apple to develop software through which to access an iPhone – rather than tackling the issue through its own technological efforts. Had interference by Apple happened, Landau says, it would have weakened the security provided by the phone's encryption, ultimately offering a "key to open not just a single house," Landau writes, "but millions of homes." Such a key could then be coopted by "bad actors," creating major long-term security issues at many levels. At the time of the court battle between the FBI and Apple, Landau argued that the FBI did not need Apple to undo the protections of the phone–that it could find other ways of accessing the information. To ensure this can happen in the future, she recommends vastly improved FBI tools and capabilities including an investigate center with agents who have deep technical understanding of modern telecommunications technologies and computer science. This will require government investment, she argues, but the alternative– "permitting bad actors to access our systems"–is unacceptable.

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