US Government criticises Apple, Google over data encryption2014-10-02 09:53 by Daniela
Tags: Apple, Google, encryption
U.S. law enforcement officials are urging Apple and Google to give authorities access to smartphone data, after the companies have expressed plans to encrypt user data on smartphones by default. Feds are weighing whether to appeal to executives or seek congressional legislation. The issue is part of a long-running debate over whether tech gadgets should have privacy-protecting encryption which makes it difficult for law enforcement to access in time-sensitive investigations.
Apple's new iPhone 6, released this month, and Google's coming update of the Android smartphone have data encryption so sophisticated that only the user may unlock it. Even law enforcement officers with search warrants would not have access.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also publicly criticized Apple and Google for moving to default smartphone data encryption to protect phones from snooping and surveillance.
"We would hope that technology companies would be willing to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators," Holder said. "It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy. When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children," Holder added.
"This is a very bad idea," said Cathy Lanier, chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, in an interview. Smartphone communication is "going to be the preferred method of the pedophile and the criminal. We are going to lose a lot of investigative opportunities."
Meanwhile, even under the new policies, law enforcement could still access a person's cellphone data that has been backed up to the companies' online-storage services. They could also still retrieve real-time phone records and logs of text messages to see whom a suspect was calling or texting, and they could still obtain wiretaps to eavesdrop on all calls made with the phones.
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