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How does encryption affect local law enforcement?

Encrypted devices are hard for law enforcement to crack on the federal, state, and local level.

Posted: Nov. 9, 2017 6:24 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Law enforcement failing to crack into encrypted devices is becoming more of a familiar problem. 

"Phone encryption is the process of changing data into an un-readable state by the use of an algorithm," James Gorecki, owner of Fast Phone Repair, said. 

The encryption is linked to a passcode which only the user knows. 

This means someone's texts, emails, and photos are unable to be accessed by anyone except for the phone owner with the passcode. 

Recently the FBI director, Christopher Wray, revealed encryption has stopped the FBI from getting into nearly 7,000 phones in the past 11 months. 

But the barriers can also be felt on a local level. 

"Almost every case we have, currently, has some connection to a cell phone, where we need to get information of it," Steven Beery, a Rochester investigator, said. 

He told us phones needing to be hacked into go to the sheriff's department. 

While phones are often involved in cases, Beery said it's not the main part of an investigation.

"We like to have a lot of physical evidence, video evidence, eye witnesses, as well as DNA ... is much stronger to make cases. The information we get from phones usually just enhances our case or solidifies our case," he said.

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