New York DA Wants Apple, Google to Roll Back Encryption:
[Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.] said that law enforcement officials did not need an encryption “backdoor,” sidestepping a concern of computer-security experts and device makers alike.
Instead, Vance said, he only wanted the encryption standards rolled back to the point where the companies themselves can decrypt devices, but police cannot. This situation existed until September 2014, when Apple pushed out iOS 8, which Apple itself cannot decrypt.
“Tim Cook was absolutely right when he told his shareholders that the iPhone changed the world,” Vance said. “It’s changed my world. It’s letting criminals conduct their business with the knowledge we can’t listen to them.”
Vance cited a recording of a telephone call made from New York City’s Riker’s Island jail to an outside line. In the call, a defendant in a sex-crimes case tells a friend about the miraculous powers of the new smartphone operating systems.
“Apple and Google came out with these softwares that can no longer by encrypted by the police,” the defendant allegedly said, mixing up encryption with decryption. “If our phones [are] running on iOS 8 software, they can’t open my phone. That might be another gift from God.”
Correct me if I’m wrong but if you’re able to quote the conversation they had about the encryption of the device, then isn’t it the case that law enforcement can, in fact, listen in to at least some of these supposedly sophisticated criminals? Regardless of their adoption of consumer-grade (i.e. incredibly common) tools and security protocols?
But more to the point: it has never been the case that government agencies have been able to compel, or access, all of the information they might find useful in the course of their investigations. That’s normal. Government agencies enjoyed incredible access to persons’ information for the course of a decade or so, as technology companies matured into firms that took the security and privacy of their customers seriously. Asking for the industry to return to a less-mature state is bad for everyone.
Finally: while domestic agencies might be worried about the situations where they cannot access the data at rest on the device, you can be sure that governmental staff who are abroad are very happy that they can use their devices with the knowledge that even foreign state actors will be challenged in accessing the data at rest which is stored on their smartphones. American (and Canadian) law enforcement agencies are understandably pushing for greater access to information but, by the same token, their success would mean that their compatriots in China, Brazil, France, Israel, and other friendly and unfriendly states would be able to lawfully gain entry to foreign agents’ devices. I’m pretty sure that diplomatic staff and military personel abroad are pleased that such an attack vector has been narrowed by Apple’s actions.