Privacy is a big deal to lots of folks - and companies like Apple have responded with new security features that are virtually unbreakable by anyone. Customers seem to love it, but now spy agencies and law enforcement seem very concerned.
At a news conference last Thursday, FBI Director James Comey criticized Apple's encryption, which scrambles information on its new phones with a mega-code that could take significant time to break. The director qualified, "it could take five-and-a-half years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letter and numbers."
Director Comey then actually accused Apple of creating a means for criminals to evade the law. He offered, "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law."
It's kind of a Catch-22 if you ask me. On one hand, you want crooks to get caught, but, with so many companies and agencies (and scored of hackers) allegedly obtaining private information without consent, why shouldn't we want our private information to be locked down and safe? After all, there was a time before iPhones and Android devices when the government didn't have access to this type of information because it simply didn't exist.
Shouldn't the government support privacy?
The FBI boss said in an interview that terrorists could use the iPhone 6 to store their data and evade law enforcement. Another senior official at the NSA said, "It's like taking out an ad that says, 'Here's how to avoid surveillance - even legal surveillance.' "
The problem is, what customers are going to be interested in purchasing technology that isn't protected? Who wants anything these days if it cannot guarantee the security of their data? The media reports endlessly about data threats, hacks, cybercrime and breaches. Then, when a company comes out with a product line with the consumer security in mind and says, "not with our device," the entities that exist to protect us, suddenly have an issue.
One security expert points out that the reactions by the FBI and NSA were likely overstated, "as access to call logs, email logs, iCloud, Gmail logs, as well as geolocation information from phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless and other data is relatively unfettered, particularly if police get a warrant."
So, I guess in the meantime, iPhone users can feel a little safe. But don't expect the FBI, NSA and other entities will take this laying down. I expect they will be working overtime for a loophole around that five-and-a-half year code-breaking estimation.