iPhone and iPad users have a new layer of protection from snooping that's better than anything I've ever seen. With Apple's new software update, iOS 8, Apple has locked down user information so well that they claim no one can break into the gadgets. And by no one, I really mean NO ONE, that includes the NSA, police, court orders - not even Apple itself can break into a user's phone or tablet.
What's even more interesting is that this new privacy assurance has nothing to do with an Apple "disclosure policy" either. Rather, deep protection protocols built directly into the software are "so deep" that it has become technically impossible for the company to comply with government warrants (ones typically requesting any number of data including photos, email, texts, contact lists, histories, notes or the like).
Beyond the user, there is just no way to extract such information from the device - period.
In the past, all this information was accessible with only the customers' four-digit passcode. That used to allow Apple to gain access, even when the phone was locked. That convenience (for parties interested in such) has passed. You see, iOS 8 special protections locks down all information stored on the device.
Now, if the information is backed up to iCloud, that is a different story. In that case, Apple could still be called upon to hand over some otherwise private customer information.
Is iOS 8 device security really impenetrable?
Apple CEO Tim Cook explains that Apple literally cannot bypass a phone's passcode and therefore cannot access the data. He also mentioned they will not be responding to such warrants in cases where users are running iOS 8 for the very reason that it is no longer technically feasible.
From a PR standpoint, Apple is receiving high marks. ACLU principal technologist Christopher Soghoian recently told the New York Times, "The public has said they want companies to put their privacy first, and Apple has listened."
There is even a new privacy Web page on Apple.com which includes what information Apple does and does not collect, when and why it handles third party requests (and from whom), and even teaches customers how to turn on important security features like two-step verification, to further protect themselves from hackers.
Somewhere, Edward Snowden is clenching his fist while an NSA operative just snapped his pencil - on purpose.