Security in the last few years has been a pivotal topic in the media, following leaks from former CIA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA was collecting phone numbers and data of millions of Americans. In the light of these findings Google came under scrutiny for a time and their stance on privacy and security was called into question, to which CEO Eric Schmidt had responded that Google had no prior knowledge to the activities of the NSA. These actions by the security branch of the US government led Schmidt to suggest they start working to make their data and the data of their users encrypted so situations like this weren’t capable of repeating. While the act of encrypting the data on user’s smartphones has gained much negative opposition from law enforcement as they claimed it would only be working against them and slow down the process of investigations, Schmidt says that their work with encrypting data after finding about the Snowden leaks has proven successful and that they have proof.
Google takes privacy and security seriously enough that they wanted to make sure it wasn’t possible for the government to engage in surveillance of citizens again without their knowledge, which is exactly what the efforts to give users an option to encrypt the data on their devices was all about. The proof according to Eric Schmidt, comes in the form of complaints from government sectors and law enforcement which used to have access to pry into personal user data, but are now either having trouble or simply not able to access that data. This show of discontent Schmidt says, is proof that Google’s efforts to strengthen their encryption in the “at-rest” and “in-transit” states has been successful.
Most of the complaints about the encryption work Google has been doing seems to be coming from the government and law enforcement officials, which makes sense as they now have a much harder time getting at the data they want. While encryption was technically available prior to Android 5.0 Lollipop, with the introduction of Google’s latest Android version of the mobile OS, encryption was baked right in in addition to being strengthened. Google has since changed the automatic encryption and gives users the option to turn it on, which leaves the power of who has access to their data in the user’s hands, where most would agree it belongs.