We’ve spent hours on the subject of data transmission security and device security on this site. We’ve reviewed BlackBerry after BlackBerry and a Blackphone, too — with another one out there that we’d might want in our review labs. A lot of us treasure hiding data from our adversaries and our nightmares, whoever or whatever they are.
But in the case of smartphone encryption, you could end up causing a nightmare for if not yourself, then your family and the people that would fight for you.
Let’s be clear that the majority of smartphones encrypted and picked up by law enforcement come from suspects of crimes, protecting crucial information to the prosecution’s case. But a good share of victims now also have encryption on their smartphones — be it by default, like on iPhones on iOS 8 and above or some Nexus devices, or opt-in on other devices — that is locking away important, locally-stored data that hasn’t been passed over a cell network.
We highlighted a federal case a few weeks ago, but 16 districts attorneys have wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee to call for legislation to force OEMs to code holes into their encryption, in case investigators need access to them.
Three of the district attorneys have active cases that involve encrypted smartphones. According to the Manhattan District Attorney, his office has 101 iPhones (as of the end of August) sitting locked and useless. Two homicide cases in the country involve encrypted phones that the victims owned — one from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the other from Evanston, Illinois.
FBI Director James Comey said to the Senate that he is against such legislation. The Obama administration is not actively pushing for legislation.
Both Google and Apple claim that the encryption is a one-way process, so much so, they can’t un-encrypt data when asked by law enforcement. Both companies are also committed to encryption for their consumers.
The fight between law enforcement and tech companies over the issues of data encryption and of passwords as protected knowledge in the legal system have grown more prominent with cases like these.
Source: The Wall Street Journal