Google and Apple’s new encryption policies set in place after the arrival of iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop have already been receiving some negativity from various government officials including FBI director James Comey, and now it seems we can add the District Attorney of Manhattan, Cyrus Vance to that list of non-supporters over the tech companies new privacy standards. Vance believes that federal and state governments need to step up and pass laws that prevent Google and Apple from sealing off the data within smartphones from law enforcement, referring to the practice as an “issue with public safety,” the same argument that’s been passed around since it was brought to light that new OS versions like Android Lollipop would be changing up their encryption standards so that not even Google would have access to encrypted data kept on a device.
With the new version of software the encrypted data includes anything from pictures to contact lists, and given news over the last year or two about NSA spying into public data on smartphones, it should be easy to understand the reasons as to why Google and Apple might want to put such strict encryption standards in place and protect their users. The idea behind it isn’t just about shielding data from the government though, rather anyone who might be trying to pry into your private information that you don’t want to be there in the first place.
Vance spoke out about his position on the matter at a keynote today held by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, calling the practice of encrypting user data a “high-stakes game” and that due to Google and Apple cutting off accessibility to what used to be otherwise fairly open and accessible information, that law enforcement would now have to “figure out how to solve a problem they didn’t create.” Isn’t that how most problems work? We encounter problems every day for all kinds of things, and more times than not they aren’t problems we created ourselves. Yet we still strive to solve them. Vance says he’s working with law enforcement to try and convince government to introduce legal standards over the data encryption but wouldn’t mention what they were. FBI Director James Comey who has also been avid and outspoken against the data encryption is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the same conference. Although ultimately keeping data on user devices encrypted is Google’s decision, this is surely not the last of the uproar we’ll hear against the security protocol.