As many might have heard, companies such as Google and Apple have announced a new method of encryption in which they themselves will not have the keys needed to decrypt the data on their customers’ handset. Instead if law enforcement were to need access to information on a phone, they’d have to compel the suspect to unlock it or hope that it is stored on Google or Apple’s servers, otherwise they’d be out of luck.
For privacy advocates this is no doubt a big deal as it means that governments and law enforcement agencies will not be able to spy on its citizens as much anymore. The same cannot be said for law enforcement agencies who feel that such encryption hinders their work. According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Deputy Attorney General James Cole had reportedly said that such practices from Apple could result in a dead child one day.
Cole claims that by putting into effect such practices, police will have a harder time trying to access information on a phone which could lead to clues about a suspect’s whereabouts, or in Cole’s example, where a missing child could be held. When asked why Apple couldn’t just create a backdoor used by law enforcement agencies, Apple’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell was quoted as saying, “We can’t create a key that only the good guys can use.”
Both sides do offer compelling arguments, but at the end of the day, which side would you rather be on? Would you rather leave your information open to potential spying by law enforcement agencies, but at the same time provide said agencies access to information that could lead to the arrest of criminals, or would you rather law enforcement agencies come up with another way to compel such information from suspects while maintaining your privacy?
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