Apple Says iOS 8.0 Will Not Be Accessible to Police, Even With a Search Warrant

Apple Says iOS 8.0 Will Not Be Accessible to Police, Even With a Search Warrant

Over the last two years since Edward Snowden turned over the rock of government surveillance and showed us all the nastiness underneath, cell phone companies have been catching a large amount of flak for what many considered helping law enforcement and the federal government violate our privacy rights.  Apple, with the release of iOS 8.0 for iPhones and iPads, has decided to take a major step in attempting to gain back some respect from its customers by announcing that any device with 8.0 installed will not contain the ability for password bypass.  This means that Apple will no longer be able to access customer data on phones and iPads…even for police officers with a search warrant.

While this is definitely a good move, it does have some caveats.  It’s not an all-inclusive privacy solution by any stretch.  All data on the iCloud is still fair game; users who use the cloud for backups (which include photos, emails, texts, and all the things you wanted to stay private) are still subject to requests made to Apple for turnover of data.  In addition, specific apps will also ‘rat you out’; even if Apple tells the feds that no, they can’t break into your phone and read your messages, the government can still go to Facebook directly and simply get a copy that way.  (For this reason, I still highly recommend that iPhone and Android users pick up a free copy of the Wickr app so they can conduct private conversations.)

The new privacy policy for Apple seems to be geared a bit more toward easing the concerns of privacy activists who were pretty tired of hearing over and over that the manufacturers of our technology were working hand in hand with overreaching and unconstitutional government agencies.

So far, the ACLU and other privacy experts have weighed in with positive reviews of the new system.  Naturally, government officials are far less thrilled; they’ve been going on and on about how their inability to break into people’s phones means they can’t solve crime.  One former law enforcement head went so far as to give the two-part veiled threat:

“[The privacy policy will] contribute to the steady decrease of law enforcement’s ability to collect key evidence — to solve crimes and prevent them.”

“Our ability to act on data that does exist . . . is critical to our success,” Hosko said. He suggested that it would take a major event, such as a terrorist attack, to cause the pendulum to swing back toward giving authorities access to a broad range of digital information.

Did you catch that?  It’s fairly subtle but unmistakable: If you do not allow us access to your data, then crime will rise and you will be unsafe.  There might even be another terrorist attack.

It’s hogwash.  Kudos to Apple for doing at least this.  Keep in mind what those caveats are, however, and adjust accordingly.

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2 Comments
  • Appalled By The World says:

    The way government operates these days they pick and choose what laws to enforce and what laws to ignore and it will selectively prosecute some people and groups but not others anyway (thank you Emperor Obomba and Heinrich Himmler Holder) so for it to whine that crime will go up without being able to be further intrusive is laughable. Besides, the average criminal is not likely to be that tech savvy anyway to cover up their acts to require more intrusiveness. As for terrorism-yes, this is a legit concern. However, the current regime’s policies of having wide open borders, allowing anyone to come on in without keeping tabs on them, not profiling the usual suspects and treating the chief philosophy espousing terror (i.e. Islamania) as merely a peaceful religion shows me that it isn’t even doing anything sensible and easy to prevent attacks so it does not need more intrusiveness to supposedly protect us.

  • GWB says:

    He suggested that it would take a major event, such as a terrorist attack, to cause the pendulum to swing back toward giving authorities access to a broad range of digital information.

    Why, yes, we are often most vulnerable to giving up our liberties when the threat to our security is highest.

    One other thing to realize as the “security fascists” complain about this: they can still very easily get in via several tools. One of these is simply confiscating whatever computer you sync to, and hooking the phone up – it will bypass the encryption as the OS is currently configured.

    And, of course, that once they have your phone, they can try all sorts of brute force password hacking on it.

    What this does isn’t truly stopping them from getting real evidence, it merely stops them from those casual peeks when they stop you for nothing much that lead to handcuffing you for something else entirely.

    Bravo Zulu to Apple for this. And Google is now trying to follow suit (sort of). This could be a good trend.

    In the meantime, always exercise your rights to their fullest extent possible.

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