New Smartphone Encryption Keeps Law Enforcement from Gathering Evidence

Rear view of policeman in uniform standing against car

While smartphone makers continue to beef up the security on their devices, the FBI is expressing its concern about the ability of law enforcement officers to unlock encrypted devices in the future.

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law,” said FBI Director James Comey. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 8, no longer has a system setup to bypass user passwords. This was originally intended to protect the customers, but it could cause major concerns for officials who could use phone information as evidence in a case.

Apple’s website said, “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Google does not have an OS on the market that offers the same protection, but the soon-to-be-released next-generation Android L OS will encrypt data by default. Until this is released, users will have to go through a series of steps on their phones to activate encryption.

Comey said he respects the need for privacy, but he also believes there should be a loophole for law enforcement officers who obtain a warrant to search through someone’s smartphone.

“The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened—even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper or a court order—to me does not make any sense,” Comey told PC Magazine.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.