Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff

View as: Print Mobile App Share:
Smartphone handsets in use.

The Justice Department is complaining that new encryption technology by Apple, Google and others makes it harder for police to gather evidence.

Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg News

Apple, Google, and other smartphone manufacturers' use of technology to encrypt their devices' communications has provoked a standoff with the U.S. government, which sees such measures as impeding law-enforcement investigations.

Federal officials argue the new security measures could undermine efforts to intercept terrorists and other suspected malefactors, while tech companies counter government requests for data stored on phones are intrusive to users' privacy and cost them business. For example, 62 percent of Apple's revenue comes from abroad, and the company stresses encryption is even more crucial to customers overseas, where government spying is a major worry.

Compounding the souring relationship between tech companies and the government were former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures about federal surveillance and data collection.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says law enforcement should go directly to customers with their data requests instead of demanding tech firms supply access.

The tech industry also has responded vehemently to law enforcement's warning that encryption on phones would eventually lead to the murder of a child by a criminal as an example of the risk companies run in providing such tools.

Industry officials say their products are marketed to ordinary consumers who store personal data on smartphones and are increasingly wary of tech companies.

From The Wall Street Journal
View Full Article - May Require Paid Subscription


Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account