FBI director: 'We don't want to break anyone's encryption'

Francis Rivera

FBI director James Comey late Sunday defended his agency's handling of the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting while arguing it is no big deal for Apple to help unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters.

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"We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it," Comey said in a statement released Sunday night.

"We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land," Comey insisted. "I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that."

It's the latest in a series of back-and-forth exchanges between federal investigators and Apple over the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who with wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in December.

The Department of Justice on Friday filed a motion to force Apple to unlock the iPhone, pushing back on the company's characterization of the request as a "back door" threatening the privacy of all iPhones.

Comey on Sunday urged people to "take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending."