FBI Director James Comey voiced concern about new smartphone encryption software that could potentially hinder law enforcement from accessing information. The statement comes on the heels of Apple and Google’s announcement last week of added security features in new smartphone software. Apple’s new operating system places privacy fully in the hands of users by default, restricting even the company’s access to user data. Even search warrants would be unhelpful in these cases, as Apple cannot provide information it does not have. In his comments, Comey highlights the strain this move will put on law enforcement investigating criminals.
Apple and Google’s move towards tougher encryption comes as result of public displeasure over the companies’ previous co-operation with government agencies. Leaks of the National Security Agency’s widespread and warrantless data collection through companies like Apple and Google, as well as webpages like Facebook, have bred distrust among smartphone consumers. Critics in the law enforcement community explain that the new security features will hinder the execution of legitimate, court-approved searches.
What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” said Director Comey.
Apple has commented that the new features are not intended to deter law enforcement investigations but instead protect consumers from intruders. Civil liberty activists have expressed support for the move towards greater consumer protection, some saying that law enforcement has massive capabilities of data collection that will not be hindered by any software.
Whether or not new encryption will hinder police work, the landscape is shifting in consumer privacy. Apple and Google’s move toward detaching themselves from consumer data will set the conversation on who accesses user data and how it is accessed.
Read More – FBI Blasts Apple, Google for Locking Police Out of Phones (Craig Timberg and Greg Miller, Washington Post)