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With Apple, Google and other tech companies responding to users’ demands for privacy with further smartphone encryption options, not everyone is happy. FBI Director James Comey is “very concerned” about increased mobile OS encryption, according to TechSpot.
In a statement reported by The Huffington Post, Comey stated that while he understood the need for privacy, the added encryption and security added by tech giants could be a severe barrier to government access to devices in extreme circumstances – such as preventing an expected terror attack. “I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I also believe that no one in this country is beyond the law. What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” he told reporters in Washington last week.
The statement comes off the back of both Apple and Android marketing devices based on their increased smartphone encryption options, as the public is increasingly concerned by what happens to their data in an increasingly connected world. Indeed, Wired states that both companies have promised that the newest versions of their software make it impossible for them to unlock encrypted phones, even when compelled to do so by government. But Comey believes that the balance of privacy and public safety is going too far the other way:
“I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smartphone. 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 that does not make any sense.”
Despite the assurances that devices are increasingly security-focused, it’s important to remember that even the most ‘secure’ device can have its vulnerabilities, as the privacy focused Blackphone discovered when it was hacked in just five minutes as the DEF CON security conference last month.
Author Alan Martin, ESET