FBI Director Concerned with Apple and Google’s Encryption Policy

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While technology companies have strained their efforts towards making products more secure and adding encryption to their products to prevent law enforcement agencies from stealing users personal data, the FBI is troubled with Apple and Google’s recently updated policies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation director, James Comey, said in a statement Thursday that he was “very concerned” over Apple and Google implementing stronger encryption into their smartphones and tablets making it much harder if not impossible for law enforcement to nab criminals.

According to Comey, Silicon Valley tech giants are “marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

“There will come a day — well it comes every day in this business — when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device,” Comey told HuffingtonPost.

“I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘How come you can’t do this thing.'”

Comeys statement comes in response to big companies implementing encryption by default due to mass surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA), as revealed by ex-NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, which generated an uproar in moving towards deploying encryption across all digital services.

The FBI directors remarks follow the privacy changes that Apple and Google have both implemented. The two largest tech companies and smartphone providers in the world. Just last week, both systems implemented encryption by default rolled into their newest updates, Android L and iOS 8.

Apple released iOS 8 only last week, for the first time allowing iPhone and iPad users to encrypt personal data with their own set password. As well, the company upped their encryption policy by no longer begin in control of encryption keys for iOS 8 devices, meaning it is impossible for the company to decrypt locked devices, even under request of law enforcement.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your pass code and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said in its new privacy policy, updated Wednesday. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Google announced that encryption will become default in their newest mobile operating system update, Android L., shortly after Apple rolled out two-factor authentication on iCloud, a mistake that cost hundreds of celebrity nude photos to be leaked.

Comey claims to agree with privacy concerns due to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but said the FBI sometimes needs urgent access to users data, such as in the case of terrorism or kidnappings.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,” Comey claims. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Despite criticism from the FBI, Apple or Google regressing from their current encryption roll-out to protect users would be improbable. It is highly unlikely companies would risk their reputation to customers due to law enforcement agencies criticism. Regardless of these companies stance, Apple was previously accused of implementing intentional backdoors into iOS 7 to aid government agencies.

About Author

Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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