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Law Enforcement Concerned About Smartphone Encryption

9-26-14

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

Apple’s newest iPhone comes with the iOS 8 operating system pre-installed. It’s a platform so secure, Apple says, it’s unbreakable. Once you set your user passcode, Apple claims, the system generates an encryption key so complex even Apple can’t hack it.

“I’m kinda like, go Apple,” said Katie MacGoun.

At the company’s flagship store, Apple aficionados weigh in.

“I have no faith that I have privacy in general. So the fact that Apple has a stance on it is promising to me,” said MacGoun.

“A company that’s in charge of somebody’s personal information needs to safeguard it, even if it is from the government,” said George Williams.

There’s the rub. Government — specifically FBI Director James Comey — expressed deep concerns about allegedly unlockable systems developed by Apple and Google for Android.

Comey told reporters, “…what concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law. … Apple and Google are marketing their Android the same way — buy our phone, and law enforcement even with legal process can never get access to it.”

“Being able to access info from cell phones these days is vital to law enforcement investigations,” said MG Security Services CEO Manny Gomez.

Former FBI Special Agent Gomez explains with current security levels raised after terrorist threats to the U.S., the FBI doesn’t want to lose that tool.

“Everybody’s on social media — emailing, texting taking pics. For law enforcement to be able to tap into the resource and be able to pin together when the next possible terror attack is gonna happen is crucial to law enforcement,” said Gomez.

“What Americans are beginning to say is, enough. This is my private information,” said Ari Rosmarin of ACLU of NJ.

As you might expect, the ACLU welcomes Apple’s hack-proof system.

“The idea that the government has only been using this technology to look at terrorists and pedophiles? The facts bear out — that’s not the case. What we’ve seen so far is the surveillance of millions of Americans’ information, not just those narrowly suspected of these major crimes,” said Rosmarin.

Apple has stated, it “…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.”

“I don’t know if I believe that,” said Williams. When asked if he thinks anything’s unhackable, he said, “I don’t. I think if somebody makes software, there’s a way in.”

As he points out, somebody’s already hacked iCloud and published nude photos of celebrities.

On Apple’s website, the company states, “…our commitment to customer privacy doesn’t stop because of a government information request.” The question is — how will Apple respond if that government request becomes a demand?