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FBI Blasts Apple, Google for Locking Police Out of phones

September 26, 2014  | 

FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.

His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide. Police have said that the ability to search photos, messages and Web histories on smartphones is essential to solving a range of serious crimes, including murder, child pornography and attempted terrorist attacks, the Washington Post reports.

“There will come a day when it will matter a great deal to the lives of people . . . that we will be able to gain access” to such devices, Comey told reporters in a briefing. “I want to have that conversation [with companies responsible] before that day comes.”

Comey added that FBI officials already have made initial contact with the two companies, which announced their new smartphone encryption initiatives last week. He said he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”

Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Ric Walters @ 9/26/2014 2:15 PM

I don't think it's a case of "putting themselves beyond the law," as much as it's a reaction to the government having placed itself beyond the law, and to the hackers who don't give a damn about it. If the NSA and other 3 letter agencies hadn't snooped into everyone's phones and emails, it's likely that Apple and Google wouldn't have felt the need to protect the privacy of their customers. Director Comey should remember that the Constitution trumps what he and others want. Were I still an active law enforcement officer, I'd love to have access to those devices, but I also realize that the ability to do so has been abused by the government (at all levels, not just the Feds), and this is nothing more than a reaction to all the invasions of privacy that have taken place.

Boston @ 9/26/2014 2:42 PM

Well said Ric!

Dy. M @ 9/26/2014 3:17 PM

The Constitution prevents illegal search and seizure but the director is complaining about encryption hindering legal search which, at least I believe, could be a serious problem with cyber-related crimes. It's similar to a warrant for a firearm used a murder being locked in a gun safe made so strong and the manufacturer not providing a "skeleton key" of sorts... just digital.

GP Cobb @ 9/26/2014 7:03 PM

And ditto to Boston and Ric. If we hadn't been stepped on by an over-reaching gobbernment, it would never have started this endless circle of infection. That said, I do NOT want my cell phone tracked or investigated. Eventually I hope to rid of the dammed things altogether.....

Bill @ 9/28/2014 7:40 AM

This is what happens when you introduce technology, such as the stingrays, into policing. Shouldn't have trampled all over the 4th amendment. Law enforcement, and their burueacratic brethren, are the sole reason for this turn of events. Had they not acted as the unscrupulous jackasses, with complete disregard for law and individual rights, there would be no need for this.
Now, Comey made his bed and he is whining about laying in it. Too bad, Comey.

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