"The same exact information that would solve a murder, catch a rapist, or prevent a mass shooting is now stored in that device."
Galati said that the NYPD seized 67 Apple devices between last October and March in 44 criminal investigations, including 10 homicides, two rapes and the shooting of two police officers.
"In every case, we have the 'file cabinet,' as it were, and the legal authority to open it, but we lack the technical ability to do so because encryption protects the contents of those 67 Apple devices," Galati said.
For years, even as computer technology took off, encryption remained difficult to use, and mostly remained in the hands of cryptographers and government agencies. Relaxed export controls in the early 2000s and advances in technology have made encryption a protection that is increasingly taken for granted, as people buy updated iPhones and use messaging services like WhatsApp that have built-in encryption to manage who can access data.
The debate gained new life after the FBI sought a court order in February to compel Apple to bypass security features on an iPhone 5C used by San Bernardino shooter Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in December. Apple resisted the order, and the government ultimately dropped the case, saying that it had bought a product from a third party that helped it get data off the device.