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September 26, 2014

FBI Annoyed By Apple’s, Google’s Default Encryption Plans

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles) /

The director of the FBI is none to pleased with Apple and Google.

James Comey, during a briefing with reporters, said he is upset by the plans of the two tech companies to make heavy encryption the default setting on Smartphones running iOS and Android. He said it is not necessarily a good thing to keep data out of the reach of police.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” Comey was quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Comey said FBI representatives have been in touch with both Apple and Google to discuss the matter in a bid to better “understand what they’re thinking and why they think it makes sense.”

Comey’s remarks come about a week after CEO Tim Cook, in an open letter to customers on the company’s new privacy page, described Apple’s protection of users’ privacy being achieved by pairing heavy encryption with strict policies to govern how customer data is handled.

The firm’s new privacy policy makes it very difficult to access user data because Apple does not have users’ encryption keys.

“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode,” Apple said in a post on its website.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

As Google prepares to launch the new Android L operating system, it announced the system would also be encrypting data by default. The move is expected to provide Android users with an extra level of security, something needed considering the amount of data most people keep on their personal devices.

“For over three years, Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” Google said in a statement “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

Google and Apple have both been pushing for more security since the Edward Snowden leak last summer. That need for increased security has become even more heightened in the wake of the recent leak of dozens of nude photos of celebrities.