NYT: Justice Department renews effort for legal mandate to unlock phones

New iPhone 5S handsets let people use their fingerprints to unlock the smartphones at an iPhone event at Apple's headquarters in Silicon Valley on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California.  Apple unveiled two new iPhones on Tuesday in its bid to expand its share of the smartphone market, including one as low as $99 with a US carrier contract. "The business has become so large that this year we are going to replace the iPhone 5 and we are going to replace it with two new designs," Apple chief Tim Cook announced at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. Apple will begin taking orders on Friday, and on September 20 the two devices will go on sale in the United States, Australia, Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore. AFP PHOTO/GLENN CHAPMAN        (Photo credit should read GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN)Federal investigators are pushing for measures that would require tech companies to grant them access to encrypted data in criminal cases, according to a New York Times report.

The FBI and Justice Department have reportedly enlisted the help of security experts, arguing they could find ways to technically and legally bypass a device's safety features without compromising its security.
For years, the federal government and the tech industry have sparred over encryption in criminal cases.
Federal agencies have said they are facing a "going dark" problem -- "eroding investigators' ability to carry out wiretap orders and search warrants," writes the Times -- because they cannot bypass devices' security measures. Investigators have argued that modern encryption technologies, as well as the rise of privacy and cyber security concerns, have hampered or completed undermined some criminal investigations.
    Communication service providers and other tech companies fear government-mandated access would would weaken necessary consumer protections.
    That issue came to a head in 2015 following the San Bernardino terror attack. Looking for evidence in the shooter's phone, the FBI demanded that Apple help unlock it. Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to comply, arguing the order would create a backdoor into their devices.