High-tech, meet no-tech.
Faced with the increasing popularity of encryption, law enforcement in Europe and the U.S. are turning to a decidedly non-digital solution: Physical force.
Over the summer, police in the United Kingdom obtained a warrant and “mugged“ a suspect—one cop grabbed his phone, the other officers then tackled him—in a credit card fraud case in order to separate him from his iPhone while he made a call. In that moment, the phone was unlocked, unencrypted and unprotected. The tactic, which the BBC called a “lawful ‘street robbery,’” yielded a vast store of communications used as evidence in the investigation. The suspect pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.
The same tactic has been used in the United States. Ross Ulbricht, the former operator of the Silk Road dark net market, was sitting in a San Francisco public library in 2013 when a host of cops silently surrounded