At the moment law enforcement officials aren’t too happy about the way Apple and Google’s mobile phone encryption works. Basically law enforcement has no way of getting into a suspect’s smartphone, and even if Apple or Google were to agree to their demands, they can’t because the key is held by the smartphone’s owner.
Unfortunately for law enforcement, their work looks like it could get a lot harder. According to a recent patent filed by Apple (via AppleInsider), it seems as though Apple has filed a patent for a method of sharing encrypted data with a friend’s phone. Essentially what this means is that an iPhone user could share files with another trusted iOS device and retrieve it later via AirDrop.
This will come in handy for those times when you have a bad internet connection and you want to ensure you data is backed up. The data stored will also be encrypted meaning that the device that will be receiving your data will not be able to see it either. There will also be a timer so that if the data is not retrieved in a week, for example, it gets deleted.
While this is a good idea for backing up data securely, we can only imagine that criminals will just upload incriminating evidence on their phones to another device, so even if they were somehow compelled to unlock their phones, law enforcement won’t be able to see anything. Given that it is a patent, we can’t be sure if Apple has serious plans about bringing this to the market.