Did you know that if Apple and Google encrypt the data on your smartphone, then pedophiles, bank robbers and terrorists will be able to wreak havoc upon America without any kinds of reservations? That’s the message that the United States federal government and law enforcement agencies are trying to send to both major tech companies and to the public at large about the dangers of smartphone encryption.
As The Guardian points out, FBI director James Comey recently said that Apple and Google’s encryption moves are tantamount to “marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.” Comey went on to say that “the notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened – even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order – to me does not make any sense.”
Is this situation really as dire as Comey and other law enforcement officials are making it out to be? You’ll be surprised to know, writes Vox’s Timothy Lee, that it isn’t. In fact, although Apple and Google may be closing off one avenue for police to investigate criminal suspects, technology as a whole has given them a lot more important tools to use than they’ve ever had before.
“While law enforcement groups love to complain about ways that encryption and other technologies have made their jobs harder, technology has also provided the police with vast new troves of information to draw upon in their investigations,” writes Lee. “With the assistance of cell phone providers, law enforcement can obtain detailed records of a suspect’s every move. And consumers increasingly use cloud-computing services that store emails, photographs, and other private information on servers where they can be sought by investigators.”
In other words, any criminal who thinks that they’ll be able to do whatever they want with their smartphones now that Apple and Google have encrypted their platforms’ data without fear of getting caught would be an absolute fool since cops still have plenty of other ways to track what they do on their mobile devices.