FBI director says iOS and Android privacy features put users 'above the law'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2014
FBI Director James Comey on Thursday responded to the latest attempts from Apple and Google to lock down their respective mobile operating systems, saying he is "very concerned" that the new systems limit or prohibit deemed lawful government access.



In an interview with the Huffington Post, Comey revealed that he has discussed the matter with representatives from both Apple and Google, noting that while personal privacy is important, access to sensitive information may one day be vital to national security.

"I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law," Comey said. "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law."

The statement comes on the heels of Apple's recent announcement that new security features in iOS 8 make it technically impossible for the company to decrypt on-device data, even if law enforcement agencies provide the proper warrants.

"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on a webpage dedicated to privacy policies. "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."

The secure system is based on encryption keys, which are no longer stored by Apple off-site, meaning the only way to access an iPhone's contacts, photos, messages and more is by keying in the appropriate lock code. It should be noted that any information sent to iCloud or other servers are fair game for government data requests.

Answering calls from privacy advocates -- and controversy surrounding the leak of nude celebrity photos stored on iCloud -- Apple recently modified its stance on personal device and services security. Initial indications that Apple was moving to a hardline position came last November when the company published a report outlining received government data requests. In May, Apple said it would routinely post similar reports throughout the year to keep customers up to date with the latest news.

Part of the issue for Comey is how these new features are being marketed to consumers, which in the case of Apple specifically targets U.S. agency requests for data.

"Google is marketing their Android the same way: Buy our phone and law-enforcement, even with legal process, can never get access to it," he said.

For now, it appears that no action will be taken to retract Apple's iOS 8 strengthened security protocols, but Comey offers a warning that the new policy could result in dire repercussions for the public.

"There will come a day -- well it comes every day in this business -- when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper's or a terrorist or a criminal's device," Comey said. "I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I'd hate to have people look at me and say, 'Well how come you can't save this kid,' 'how come you can't do this thing.'"
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 188
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member
    "I'd hate to have people look at me and say, 'Well how come you can't save this kid,'"

    Think of the children!
  • Reply 2 of 188

    Learn your Constitution and Bill of Rights well or they won't be there later.

     

    Keep in mind that the constant erosion of our constitutionally protected rights has continued under both Democratic and Republican administrations. This is not a "Left" versus "Right" matter.

     

    http://constitutioncenter.org

     

    http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/bill-of-rights/

     

    http://tenthamendmentcenter.com

     

  • Reply 3 of 188

    Android also?  

  • Reply 4 of 188
    People die for our liberties and rights all of the time. It's obvious that we put life below liberty on the scale. Live free or die. Heroes die so others can live free. They aren't all soldiers in some foreign country. They are everyday people.
  • Reply 5 of 188
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post

     

    Android also?  




    Google has not yet implemented this promised feature.

  • Reply 6 of 188

    See, I wonder if the issue with 8.0.1 was direct tampering to try and add a backdoor?  It would be interesting to know if the NSA tried to hack the distribution of iOS 8 and broke it...

     

    I am of course joking, but it is just to darn obvious and that Apple did not somehow catch it in QA?  Just seems very odd to me.

     

    In any case, I suspect that the US government and others will attempt to force companies like Apple and Google to provide them a back door.  For now, it appears that Apple and maybe Google are saying no.

  • Reply 7 of 188

    "I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is above the law,"

    “Above the law” - How about Outside The Law? How about go f*@! yourself?

  • Reply 8 of 188
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Presumably, by this argument, anyone using strong cryptography is placing themselves above the law. Is it illegal to "place yourself above the law", whatever that means?
  • Reply 9 of 188
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RORWessels View Post

     

    See, I wonder if the issue with 8.0.1 was direct tampering to try and add a backdoor?  It would be interesting to know if the NSA tried to hack the distribution of iOS 8 and broke it...

     

    I am of course joking, but it is just to darn obvious and that Apple did not somehow catch it in QA?  Just seems very odd to me.

     

    In any case, I suspect that the US government and others will attempt to force companies like Apple and Google to provide them a back door.  For now, it appears that Apple and maybe Google are saying no.




    Unelected officials believe laws do not apply to them... breaking news!

  • Reply 10 of 188
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post



    Presumably, by this argument, anyone using strong cryptography is placing themselves above the law. Is it illegal to "place yourself above the law", whatever that means?



    And if Washington cannot do it legally, they will change the law to exempt themselves from prosecution.

     

    I am really glad Apple pushed this issue to the forefront. There will be no room for American products anywhere if they lose this fight.

  • Reply 11 of 188
    Jimmy, you'll have to remember that with those old fashion land lines, you need to get a warrant based on reasonable cause to listen in on that line, and if that line was used for a conversation a day ago before you had the warrant, well the conversation is lost because it is not stored anywhere.

    While I am for you getting warrant based on reasonable cause and intercepting calls or texts on an cell phone while they are happening, I'm not for past conversations being "Out There" forever and giving you the free rein to grab in a massive data search without a warrant.

    So yes, you should need to do things the right way or there will be nothing left worth fighting or dying for in this country. Don't lose sight that you are a public servant. You need to listen to the People.

    What is interesting about our country now is that when Americans want to be heard they are ignored, and when they want to have their conversations kept private, the government wants to listen in to it all. We seem to have come to a very sad place in our history.
  • Reply 12 of 188
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    Many people and politicians in the government and the administration believe that they are "above the law". Screw them all!

     

    The authorities can not be trusted, as they have demonstrated time and time again.

  • Reply 13 of 188
    The government should do to put the backdoor on the mircosoft windows phones, plain old school phones and blackberry phones. I am feel like to voting out the stupid government.
  • Reply 14 of 188
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post



    "I'd hate to have people look at me and say, 'Well how come you can't save this kid,'"



    Think of the children!



    Typical excuse to violate people's civil rights.

  • Reply 15 of 188
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tastowe View Post



    The government should do to put the backdoor on the mircosoft windows phones.



    I think they already have a backdoor. Microsoft is easy to bully because of their many government contracts.

  • Reply 16 of 188
    So the at FBI is ineffective without unfettered access to phones? What would-be criminal uses a phone to plan a crime what with the NSA and Google gobbling up data at incredible rates? What did they do 10 years ago? Phone taps sure- but they have amazing ways of getting intelligence that do not require phone data.
  • Reply 17 of 188
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by revenant View Post



    So the at FBI is ineffective without unfettered access to phones? What would-be criminal uses a phone to plan a crime what with the NSA and Google gobbling up data at incredible rates? What did they do 10 years ago? Phone taps sure- but they have amazing ways of getting intelligence that do not require phone data.



    Well, they have to keep up with the NSA or they'll get their budget cut.

     

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/04/the-nsa-refuses-to-deny-spying-on-members-of-congress

  • Reply 18 of 188
    A judge will force Apple Inc and Google Inc to comply with a court-ordered search warrant and stop these unreasonable constraints on law enforcement. This effort to keep law enforcement completely in the dark is nothing but a public relations tactic to please their customers while they duly wait for orders from the judge that forces them to give access to the privates law enforcement seek to investigate with a judicial warrant.
  • Reply 19 of 188
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    We would all be safer if the government inspected our homes twice daily and made notes on suspicious behavior. That WOULD prevent some murders--including murders of children.

    I'd hate to have to tell people "we couldn't save that kid" because the police were not able to search all homes daily.

    Build a case against criminals. Want to bug their house? Get a warrant. Want to see their financial records? Get a warrant. The fact that privacy is sometimes possible doesn't mean that detective work can no longer be done.
  • Reply 20 of 188
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by YvesVilleneuve View Post



    A judge will force Apple Inc and Google Inc to comply with a court-ordered search warrant and stop these unreasonable constraints on law enforcement. This effort to keep law enforcement completely in the dark is nothing but a public relations tactic to please their customers while they duly wait for orders from the judge that forces them to give access to the privates law enforcement seek to investigate with a judicial warrant.

     

    Oh, and by the way:  https://gigaom.com/2014/09/18/apples-warrant-canary-disappears-suggesting-new-patriot-act-demands/

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