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Apple, Google Could Effect FBI Investigations

fbi directorOne of the things that people love most about Apple and Google is the unrivaled privacy proponents designed to encrypt the latest smartphone devices in a way to prevent law enforcement from gaining access to certain private data. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) says these privacy efforts could cause problems with their investigations.

Director of the FBI, James Comey, told reporters yesterday that the agency is currently in talks with both Apple and Google in which concerns of their privacy efforts hindering criminal investigations is being raised. As stated by an Apple spokesperson last week, with the release of its most recent operating system, iOS8, bypassing the smartphone user passwords can no longer be done.

Apple added that it is not technically possible for them to respond to government warrants for data extraction from devices in their possession that are running on the iOS 8 system. Shortly after, Google stated it already had that type of technology in phones that run its Android operating system but that as part of the next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default so users never even have to turn it on.

According to Comey, the FBI is extremely concerned that both Apple and Google were marketing something that would expressly allow people to “place themselves above the law”. Former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed the government had mass surveillance programs, which ultimately could create problems for tech companies in the United States.

Snowden said these companies are mandated by federal law to cooperate with requests pertaining to these programs. Being concerned that Snowden’s revelations could cause serious damage to business, specifically in foreign markets, US tech companies pushed back on the surveillance programs by taking a more public role.

Although Yahoo lost a court battle against some of the surveillance requests, it recently won a decision by the courts to reveal publically the court documents that detail the fight. To protect the privacy of its customers, Yahoo used the information as a means of touting its efforts.

While Comey said he understands privacy concerns, especially after Snowden’s decision to tell the world about US surveillance programs, he added that there are times when the FBI has an urgent need to gain access to private data, to include times of terrorism or kidnapping.

He fully supports the idea that a warrant from a judge should be required for the FBI to look into people’s private information but that the agency could not support the idea of someone marketing privacy as never being accessible, as in the case of Apple and Google, among others.

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