FBI director James Comey does not like the idea that your smartphone can encrypt your data so that law enforcement can’t get to it, and he used an interview on CBS‘ 60 Minutes to explain why.
Sitting down for a lengthy interview with CBS News‘ Scott Pelley, Comey said that Apple and Google, by offering encryption technology on its smartphones and tablets, puts terrorists, kidnappers and pedophiles “beyond the law.”
“The notion that we would market devices that would allow someone to place themselves beyond the law, troubles me a lot. As a country, I don’t know why we would want to put people beyond the law. That is, sell cars with trunks that couldn’t ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order, or sell an apartment that could never be entered even by law enforcement. Would you want to live in that neighborhood? This is a similar concern. The notion that people have devices, again, that with court orders, based on a showing of probable cause in a case involving kidnapping or child exploitation or terrorism, we could never open that phone? My sense is that we’ve gone too far when we’ve gone there.”
According to Apple Insider, Apple’s iOS encryption process makes it virtually impossible for anyone, with or without a court order, to access encrypted data on users’ phones and tablets. Further, Apple has said that it will not hand over users’ smartphone and tablet data to the government, even with a warrant. And according to 9 to 5 Google, Google’s Android system offers similar protections via encryption. Both moves come after claims that the companies were secretly cooperating with the government that surfaced earlier this year, according to this Inquisitr report.
The FBI has been in talks with both companies about giving government their encryption keys, but neither company is backing down, according to App Advice.
CNN Money writer Jose Paglieri isn’t buying Comey’s contention that encryption puts criminals beyond the law. He points out two problems with Comey’s claims.
First, the FBI (or any other law enforcement agency) can get your encrypted data, with a warrant. If a suspect refuses to give law enforcement access to his phone, he can be thrown in jail for contempt until he cooperates.
Second, Apple and Google’s encryption methods aren’t there to protect criminals; they’re there to protect users from criminals. Criminal defense attorney David Oscar Markus told CNN that encryption can’t both protect users from hackers and simultaneously allow government access to your data.
“You can’t have it both ways. If there’s a backdoor, it can be exploited. The government shouldn’t get to pick and choose what’s protected.”
Do you believe that encryption technology shields pedophiles and terrorists from the law? Let us know what you think in the Comments below.
[Image courtesy of: Vosizneias]