Apple chief executive Tim Cook echoed words from the security community on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s current push for backdoor encryption, which could weaken the current mobile encryption techniques used by Apple, Google and other technology companies.
Speaking at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington DC, Cook said "So let me be crystal clear: Weakening encryption or taking it away harms good people who are using it for the right reason," and called the FBI plea for removal of mobile encryption “incredibly dangerous.”
FBI director James Comey proposed backdoor access to encryption systems for investigators looking into criminals, but like the terrorist language used to justify NSA surveillance networks, the push has not gone down well with privacy advocates or tech companies.
Apple and Google both added new mobile encryption to iOS and Android devices last year, making it harder for the FBI to swoop in and steal information from devices. It forced Comey to go through normal channels like Congress to gain leverage against tech companies, but Congress went against Comey’s advances.
It is unlikely any technology company will accept the FBI’s advances either, considering the amount of sleazy behaviour by US intelligence departments in the past few years. Reports that companies like Yahoo were forced to hand over information or face millions in daily fines shows the radical behaviour of the US government in order to get what they want from companies.
Apple is in a strong position to fight against the FBI, but as we have seen time and time again, court orders, subpoenas and other forms of legal abuse can be used to keep a company quiet when it comes to handing over personal information.
UK PM David Cameron recently tried to argue encryption should be illegal, but after a massive media backlash retracted the statement. Now that the Conservatives are in power we can expect to see the Snooper’s Charter—allowing the government to hold onto private information for 12 months—alongside other worrying bills coming to Parliament.