The NSA has been running for cover since Snowden’s revelation, but the new iPhone 6 gives the federal government nowhere to hide.
The iPhone 6 Plus may be bending in people’s pockets and under the pressure of tough hands, but it’s not bending to the will of the US National Security Agency (NSA) any longer.
Apple’s iPhone 6 features data encryption, a tool Apple says that will prevent the NSA from having easy access to iPhone user data. You would think that after the 38 iOS vulnerabilities the NSA discovered in iPhones that governmental agencies wouldn’t fear Apple. And yet, it seems that even the government can turn afraid. FBI Director James Comey said in an interview this week that Apple’s data encryption will hurt law enforcement and prevent them from capturing criminals and terrorists.
“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law. The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened – even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order – to me doesn’t make any sense,” Comey said. He also spoke about parents who come to him wanting to figure out how to best find evidence on their child – but that the FBI will be unable to help because of Apple’s new data encryption process. “It’s like taking out an ad that says, ‘Here’s how to avoid surveillance – even legal surveillance,” he said.
And, of course, terrorism is the other danger risk with Apple’s new data encryption process according to James Comey. Terrorists will come to see how safe and protected their plans are – and the iPhone 6 will become a potent tool in the hands of every terrorist. Apparently, the 38 loopholes don’t mean much if Apple’s now got a process that doesn’t give an accessible backdoor to the government. Of course, iCloud is still controlled by Apple, so your photos and other documents uploaded are still accessible by Cupertino.
Some people believe that iCloud and other cloud protection services may still be accessible by the NSA, FBI, and other federal law enforcement agencies, but there’re many iPhone users who don’t trust Apple in light of the recent Celebritygate iCloud breach (or have never used iCloud or any other cloud storage service) and maintain their photos and documents on their devices locally. Potentially, if a criminal wants to get away with plans for a new crime, he or she need only maintain their data on local memory storage because Apple’s new data encryption procedure would allow their data to be protected.
Ultimately, Apple takes itself out of the way with regard to law enforcement. The company will no longer be on the hook for what happens with user data. At the same time, however, does this mean that the government couldn’t still access it? If “Uncle Sam” threatens criminals or the potentially guilty with “obstruction of justice,” couldn’t the federal government compel US citizens to come forward with their smartphones and make them accessible for inspection? What seems like a good idea for Apple and iPhone customers may bring some new setbacks in the name of security and protection.
Apple is off the hook, but are you? We’ll learn more as Google provides automatic data encryption (although the option is already available on Android devices) with its major Android L update this Fall.