Photo (cc) by William Hook
You might love the new iPhone 6, but it’s not a sentiment shared by law enforcement.
According to The New York Times, the new iPhone “encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user, and that Apple says it will not possess.” Law enforcement agencies are concerned this encryption will hinder their investigative abilities.
Here’s an example of how the encryption works: If a judge issues a court order, demanding that Apple provide the contents of a specific iPhone 6 to law enforcement, Apple will not be able to comply. “It will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner,” the Times said.
Although Apple said it could take more than five years to crack the phone’s code, security experts said Apple is underestimating how quickly federal agencies can break a code.
While privacy-minded users are likely pleased with the encryption, police agencies are furious. The Times said Apple is being accused of creating a way for criminals, including terrorists, to evade law enforcement.
“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law,” FBI director James B. Comey said at a September news conference.
The Times reported that while law enforcement is concerned that this is “the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment” that will hinder its ability to fight terrorism and other criminal activity, company executives said the U.S. government brought this on itself.
“Major U.S. tech companies like Apple and Google argue that they can’t do business if customers believe their data isn’t secure, particularly in foreign markets like China and Europe, where consumers fear American tech products might come preloaded with ways for American surveillance agencies to access their data,” Time said.
Google’s Android has had an encryption setting for several years, but it won’t be the default setting on Android until the next version comes out.
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