Last month I reported on how the Chinese state reacted to Apple’s strengthening of data security on its devices by carrying out an attack on the iCloud. Now a report in the Wall Street Journal has revealed that the Deputy Attorney General of the United States met with Apple executives last month in an attempt to pressure them away from pursuing further encryption features for their products.
Earlier this year claims that apple’s imessage service was completely secure against third party eavesdropping were hotly debated. Whether not their products are as secure as they say they are, what’s clear is their intention to upgrade to an encryption scheme that keeps user data secure by creating a system wherein apple itself does not posses the user key necessary to make encrypted data on one of its devices readable to a third party.
This would make it far more difficult, perhaps even impossible, for the company to comply with a government request to turn over data as part of an investigation. For this reason the no. 2 official at the department of Justice has asked Apple to please think of the hypothetical dead children that will result from the investigative setbacks caused by encrypted data on personal devices. Apple execs, it it said, countered that the same kind of information could be gathered from other sources. The report goes on to say that they found this dead child scenario, “inflammatory.”
In the wake of revelations about NSA spying and the ongoing ramifications of the patriot act and the “war on terror” smartphone leaders Apple and Google have found themselves pinned between consumer and business demands for greater data security and the demand placed on them by multinational government agencies looking for access, ostensibly for reason of security. To date, FBI director James Comey has been the most significant vocal critic of Smartphone encryption.