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Google and Apple Encryption Efforts – FBI Can Only Blame Themselves

October 10, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

The Government of United States has been clearly unhappy over Google and Apple’s efforts to boost smartphone encryption. The feds have accused that the Internet giants were going beyond the law.

Smartphone

Blame the Feds

  • For the past two weeks, federal agencies have been criticizing Google and Apple for strengthening the encryption on their users’ mobiles.
  • According to the feds, this move will pave way for kidnappers, pedophiles, hackers, drug dealers, and a whole range of violent criminals evading law, resulting in an increase in crime. This will adversely affect millions of American citizens.
  • The FBI, NSA, and Congress members have called for change in Web security laws, and that Apple and Google would have to face penalties for their privacy protections.
  • But Trevor Timm, The Guardian’s U.S. columnist, described the criticisms as a misleading tactic to scare American citizens into believing that encrypted devices are not appropriate.
  • Things did not get any better when the editorial board of The Washington Post reported that there must exists a kind of compromise on smartphone encryption. The American daily firmly believes that this type of security will impact only a few cases and not a huge population. However, the Post acknowledged the fact that technology, security, privacy, and the legal system colliding.

View From Amazon CEO

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who bought the daily for $250 million in 2013, has maintained silence about whether or not his firm’s flagship Fire Phone will offer the same encryption.

The entire responsibility of smartphone encryption rests on Google and Apple’s heads. The move is not a response to legislation but a response to the lack of legislation supporting the idea.

Given the fact that the trust in government is at the bottom of the pit, courtesy NSA revelations, the tech titans have taken the right time to introduce smartphone encryption.

Similar existing technologies such as PGP mail and Tor allow encrypted communications with family, friends, journalists, business partners, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. When these are not criminalized, why should smartphone encryption should be treated any different. However, considering the whole picture, Apple and Google’s move is not the only and complete solution to absolute privacy.

A minimum percentage of cases where the federal government may seek the device owner directly will exist. The balance information can still be intercepted via wiretaps and pen registers. Information stored in the cloud, especially in Apple and Google’s closed system, can still be handed over by corporates to law enforcement, if the need be.

But by all means, it a very good start by Apple and Google.

Conclusion

Although majority of the NSA surveillance scandal focused on American citizens and those residing in the fifty states, Apple and Google’s response impacts those in more oppressive nations. Russia, Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and many others are considered as the main adversaries enemies of the Web.

Preventing governments to access to the most basic and fundamental information such as marital and religious status, and sexual orientation can save many lives. In some of the mentioned countries, falling to adhere to their oppressive law can result in a quick, unjust public hanging.

Apple and Google could have saved many lives or be saving in places most Westerners have been oblivious to.

Meanwhile, the director of FBI James Comey picked on Apple, saying the firm was giving an opportunity to its users to put themselves beyond the law.

The way federal agencies and law enforcement have acted till today, by using abduction and terrorism as a way to sway the public minds away from NSA leaks shows their only desperation. Now is the appropriate time to restore trust in the tech industry.

The Silicon Valley has lost its faith in the United States government, and are reacting to the White House via various technologies; the first of many being smartphone encryption.

As a matter of fact, Silicon Valley technology giants are placing its customers before the government of United States explains a lot about the state of the cyber security today.

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