Smartphone makers Apple and Google are on track for a showdown with the government on new encryption features that makes it difficult for law enforcement to extract data that might also help a police investigation, the Wall Street Journal
Apple raised eyebrows last week when it shared with the launch of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that it was taking extra steps to protect user privacy via its mobile operating system.
Noted Apple, on its website: "It's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data."
The problem is likely huge. In the first week of sales alone, Apple set records selling more than 10 million of its new phones, the New York Times
noted. Momentum is expected to increase as consumer drive for the latest in tech devices increases.
Google, which makes the Android operating system for its own phone models, said it, too would follow Apple's lead in making data extraction harder, noting privacy concerns, even as the government now faces a higher hurdle in the post-Edward Snowden era when their efforts to monitor citizen communication was exposed, the Washington Post
Noted Stanford University fellow Brian Pascal to the Journal of the significance of the tech companies' strategy: "All of a sudden, a for-profit company has decided, 'We're going to step in and be the first line of defense for customers against their own government.'"
While both companies denied a request for comment to the Journal, Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive and successor to founder Steve Jobs, spoke about his feelings on protecting customers.
"People have a right to privacy," Cook told interviewer Charlie Rose, according to the Journal. "And I think that's going to be a very key topic over the next year or so."
In June, the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of police searches and privacy, ruling that search warrants were required for access of smartphone data in nearly all instances, the Post noted, adding that the legal standard "is quickly being rendered moot; eventually no form of legal compulsion will suffice to force the unlocking of most smartphones."
Law enforcement experts were quick to push back on the problems it would likely create for solving crimes. Former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann was outraged, noting it allowed Apple to tell criminals to "use this," the Journal noted.
"You could have people who are defrauded, threatened, or even at the extreme, terrorists using it," Weissmann told the Journal.
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