Subscribe

iOS 8 'swung too far' toward privacy, says FBI director

iPhone 6 and iOS 8 are too secure, according to FBI director James Comey. Is that good or bad for consumers?

  • close
    A customer holds an iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus at the Apple store on Fifth Avenue after the phones went on sale in New York in this file photo taken September 19, 2014.
    Adrees Latif/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

FBI director James Comey delivered stern remarks last Thursday regarding Apple’s recent release of iOS 8, an operating system with improved security including encryption. Apple boasts that its new security features will make it harder for government agencies to access information on people’s phones. But Mr. Comey worries that this new countermeasure “is an indication to us as a country and as a people” that the pendulum has "swung too far" toward privacy. 

With the release of Apple’s iOS 8 comes enhanced encryption. If your phone is encrypted, its contents are unreadable unless you have the passcode for that phone. (For additional information, see Monitor coverage of Apple's recent attempts to assuage consumer concerns about device security and privacy.)

With iOS 8, Apple no longer has back-door access to unlocking users’ phones. Thus, law enforcement officials won’t be able to compel Apple to hand over the keys and see the contents of a cellphone.

Recommended: 10 weird things your iPhone can do

Comey notes the danger of this change. An inability to access the contents of an encrypted device might lead to law enforcement officials not being able to save a person in danger.

Some fellow law enforcement officials agree. In response to the privacy debate following Apple’s release of iOS 8, detectives in Chicago and Los Angeles have cited occasions where warranted access to the contents of a cellphone has helped solve cases, the Washington Post reports.

Others celebrate Apple’s enhanced encryption standards, not as a snub to law enforcement officials but as a much-needed security improvement. 

Jonathan Zdziarski, an iOS security expert and consultant to law enforcement, writes on his blog that Apple “has finally brought their operating system up to what most experts would consider ‘acceptable security’ ” with its release of iOS 8. In previous operating systems, Apple’s back-door access also gave hackers and criminals simpler ways of accessing information on a phone. This meant government agencies often developed physical hardware modifications for devices used by the military and public officials in order to make them more secure than regular versions. 

Apple’s iOS 8 isn’t the only operating system with encryption. A few days after Apple's announcement, Google revealed that its next generation of Android would include automatic encryption rather than a feature users had to opt in to. And Windows Phone 8.1, the newest operating system from Microsoft, has security features designed to make the phones more appealing to government agencies looking for better security in their mobile devices.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK