FBI director continues crusade against Apple's encryption of iPhone data

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2014
James Comey, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, has once again slammed Apple's iPhone and devices running Android that can hold secure, encrypted data that is inaccessible by law enforcement, saying that such capabilities allow users to "place themselves beyond the law."




Comey's remarks came during an interview with 60 Minutes, during which he said he believes unbreakable encryption of user data has "gone too far." He said he's concerned that even with a legal court order, the information secured on a smartphone could be kept secret, even in the cases of kidnapping, child exploitation or terrorism.

"The notion that we would market devices that would allow someone to place themselves beyond the law troubles me a lot," Comey said. "As a country, I don't know why we would want to put people beyond the law. That is, sell cars with trunks that couldn't ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order, or sell an apartment that could never be entered even by law enforcement. Would you want to live in that neighborhood?"

The comments are similar to those Comey made in a separate interview last month, when he said he believes privacy features in both Apple's iOS and Google's Android allow users to put themselves "above the law." The FBI director has said that he is "very concerned" that secure, unbreakable systems limit or prohibit lawful government access.



But Comey did stress on 60 Minutes that he believes there should be restrictions, review and oversight when it comes to law enforcement. He feels so strongly about the issue that in 2004, as deputy attorney general, he fought with President George W. Bush on warrantless wiretapping.

Comey indicated he would resign if the Bush administration reauthorized its secret surveillance program, and the president was persuaded. As a result, the program was reauthorized in a modified form that Comey said conformed to the law.

The FBI director pledged that his organization does not do any electronic surveillance without a court order. A federal judge must agree that the person being spied upon is likely a terrorist, an agent of foreign power, or a serious criminal.

"It is an extremely burdensome process," he said. "And I like it that way."



New security features in Apple's iOS 8 platform make it technically impossible for the company to decrypt on-device data, even if law enforcement agencies were to provide the proper warrants. If an iPhone has been locked with a secure passcode, Apple has no method of bypassing that code.

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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 188

    They could change the law.

  • Reply 2 of 188
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,214member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by reroll View Post

     

    They could change the law.




    exactly, if they want to be able to access the data they need to debate it with the public and make a law.  Wanting backdoors and spying on citizens  is not the way to go.

  • Reply 3 of 188
    Where did I put that tiny violin?
  • Reply 4 of 188

    James Comey is an ass.

     

    The logical conclusion of his argument is to make it mandatory for everyone to wear microphones and video cameras  24 hours a day wherever they are, so that the government can check that they're not terrorists or other criminals.

     

    I wouldn't be surprised to see him complaining that the government has no access to our thoughts.

     

    Hello 1984.

     

    The USA has forgotten what liberty is.

  • Reply 6 of 188
    The Fifth Amendment puts the contents of a person's mind "beyond the law". An encrypted data storage device whose key is only within a person's mind is effectively an extension of the person's mind. This is where technology has taken us and there's no going back.

    Law enforcement is far from helpless. Information must still be decrypted and exist in a physical form when the user is interacting with it. Get court-ordered end-point surveillance of a person when they are using the data when there is probable cause to do so. This is the equivalent of eavesdropping on a conversation.

    We don't need radical new laws. We need the government to understand that the last century or so of plaintext electronic communications was an immature phase preceding the age of secure data.
  • Reply 7 of 188
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,074member
    More endorsements for iOS from the FBI.
  • Reply 8 of 188
    Carney' statements are complete BS. He cannot guarantee people's right to privacy. Certainly he can't stop the NSA or CIA from invading your privacy with warrant less searches. And once he is gone, his successor can completely change his mind and allow warrant less searches. So unless it is constitutionally outlawed, Apple is doing us all a favor.
  • Reply 9 of 188
    magic_al wrote: »
    The Fifth Amendment puts the contents of a person's mind "beyond the law". An encrypted data storage device whose key is only within a person's mind is effectively an extension of the person's mind. This is where technology has taken us and there's no going back.

    Law enforcement is far from helpless. Information must still be decrypted and exist in a physical form when the user is interacting with it. Get court-ordered end-point surveillance of a person when they are using the data when there is probable cause to do so. This is the equivalent of eavesdropping on a conversation.

    We don't need radical new laws. We need the government to understand that the last century or so of plaintext electronic communications was an immature phase preceding the age of secure data.

    There is a very simple solution to this. Get a court order compelling the suspect to unlock the device, then access it using their finger in the same way the obtain finger prints during a booking.
  • Reply 10 of 188

    What an idiotic argument to compare a vehicle or apartment to a cell phone. Vehicles and apartments can hold physical evidence, cell phones contain intangible ideas and discussions.

     

    As previously suggested, this would be no different than making everyone wear a microphone and saying, "We'll record everything you say but we PROMISE to only listen to it if we think we have a good enough reason to. Just trust us."

     

    And, if that doesn't convince people, make it about helping the children. Oh wait...

  • Reply 11 of 188
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,791member
    Quote:


     That is, sell cars with trunks that couldn't ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order, or sell an apartment that could never be entered even by law enforcement.


     

    ...or have people retain information in their memory that we can't torture out of them.

     

     

    The only reason they don't want it encrypted is because they want unlawful, unrestricted access to it. Otherwise they could simply get a court order to have me give up my password.

  • Reply 12 of 188
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,635member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post





    There is a very simple solution to this. Get a court order compelling the suspect to unlock the device, then access it using their finger in the same way the obtain finger prints during a booking.



    And then log into iCloud and erase the device while its in their hands. 

  • Reply 13 of 188
    This sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but imagine for a moment that this is just a show to make use think these phones are somewhat safe and private.

    I just have a hard time believing that government intelligence agencies with essentially unlimited budgets and very few restrictions don't have the means to crack an iPhone when they want to.

    Or maybe they're just trying to make sure we know that we're not entitled to privacy, and that we should never not be afraid of the boogeymen out to kill our children a ruin the american way of life. Shut up, slave!
  • Reply 14 of 188
    focherfocher Posts: 630member

    If he's against it, that's good enough to convince me...that Apple and Google are doing the right thing.

     

    We're less than 15 years since 9/11 and just the government abuses we know about are appalling. One can only imagine how bad they really act.

  • Reply 15 of 188
    **** this clown. It SHOULD be difficult for the Government to access data.
  • Reply 16 of 188
    Well, he's upset that it puts people beyond the law, because beyond the law is a place where he would only like to see the government.
  • Reply 17 of 188

    I've seen better makeup on corpses in funeral homes.

  • Reply 18 of 188
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,521member
    James Comey is an ass.

    The logical conclusion of his argument is to make it mandatory for everyone to wear microphones and video cameras  24 hours a day wherever they are, so that the government can check that they're not terrorists or other criminals.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see him complaining that the government has no access to our thoughts.

    Hello 1984.

    The USA has forgotten what liberty is.

    With the proper warrant authorities should be able to search a phone like they search a house or car. The fourth amendment guaranttees protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, not lawful ones. As Comey said , what if police we're not allowed to open the trunk of your car for any reason, even with a warrant. The balance of power between the government and it's citizens is a fine line and lawful search warrants should compel an iPhone user to unlock their device.
  • Reply 19 of 188
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,775member
    Was the famous BlackBerry phone's encryption system different in some way?
  • Reply 20 of 188
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,775member
    James Comey is an ass.

    The logical conclusion of his argument is to make it mandatory for everyone to wear microphones and video cameras  24 hours a day wherever they are, so that the government can check that they're not terrorists or other criminals.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see him complaining that the government has no access to our thoughts.

    Hello 1984.

    The USA has forgotten what liberty is.

    The Patriot Act was certainly a turning point.
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