James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, said he was “concerned” over Apple and Google marketing smart phones that can’t be searched by law enforcement which would force them to investigate criminals like the old days.
He told hacks that the companies are marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.
Comey said the bureau has “reached out” to Apple and Google “to understand what they’re thinking and why they think it makes sense”.
Phone makers have moved to encryption in the wake of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations about massive US government surveillance.
Apple announced the enhanced encryption for iOS 8, which Apple says makes it impossible for the company to decrypt a locked device, even for law enforcement. While Android’s encryption was optional, it works similarly. In its upcoming Android L release, encryption will be enabled by default.
Of course the actual ability for Google and Apple to keep the spooks out of communication is limited. Both companies store data on the cloud and it can be obtained using a court order.
Encryption will probably protect users from individuals trying to snoop in on a stolen or resold phone, but there’s nothing to stop the FBI from getting a warrant for data on your phone or for data stored in the cloud connected to your account.