Apple and Google are both touting new security features inside iOS 8 and Android L. The former makes it much harder for authorities to gain access to parts of your phone, like iMessage and Mail, while the latter will start to ship with encryption enabled out-of-the-box later this fall. The FBI doesn’t like this added security one bit and thinks there’s definitely some national concerns that need to be addressed.
“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law,” FBI director James Comey said recently. “What concerns me about this is the companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.” Comey agrees that the government should still need a warrant to access data but doesn’t agree that these companies should be taking that data off the table entirely.
“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 said, according to The Huffington Post. “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.”
In a world where the public has warranted concerns about government “backdoor” access to major tech firms, it’s clear that these companies want to gain consumer trust through added privacy measures. While Comey thinks there needs to be a larger discussion on the matter, another expert recently said that the bump in security is good for everyone, including government agencies.
Forensics researcher and reverse engineer Jonathan Zdziarski made a convincing argument that the increased security measures are actually in the best national interest. “Consider also that by improving the security of their products, Apple has improved it for everyone – CEOs, the President (who’s been seen using an iPad to receive daily briefings), congressmen, judges, our own military and many others,” Zdiarski argued on his blog. “If you’re going to weaken security to make forensics possible, you’re also weakening it for everyone, opening the door for foreign governments and cyber criminals to attack all of us. For the sake of privacy and overall security, the only logical solution is to make products as secure as possible, and let good detective work do the crime solving, rather than an easy button.”
There are two sides to this story: that of Comey and the request for access to private data when necessary, and the other, more secure side that believes locking everything down will ultimately keep us all safer. There will no doubt continue to be interesting discussions on these topics.