According to Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, federal and state governments should consider passing laws that forbid devices like smartphones, tablets etc. to be sealed off from law enforcement agencies.
Apple and Google had stated last year that their devices are equipped with encrypted data that shields contact lists, documents and photographs from unwanted eyes. This includes hackers, thieves and the government.
However, Vance challenges this measure and says, ““It’s developed into a sort of high-stakes game. They’ve eliminated accessibility in order to market the product. Now that means we have to figure out how to solve a problem that we didn’t create.”
Both Apple and Google have not issued any statement in this regard. Vance believes he is going rouge by speaking on this matter at the conference hosted by the FBI but according to him, it is essential to enable the police to stop crimes against children as well as solve murders. He also pointed out that law enforcement agencies have not yet spoken in a unified voice about this issue.
In the recent years, there have been several high profile hacking incidents that have forced technology companies to increase security measures for consumers. Companies like Apple and Google now offer phones that can automatically scramble data and provide the owner a digital key that would be needed to unlock it. This makes it harder for law enforcement agencies to get access to the content of suspects’ phone without their knowledge or cooperation.
A large number of criminal cases today have a digital component. There is significant evidence stored on smartphones that could be used to identify, locate and prosecute criminals. However, many cases cannot be prosecuted effectively if the perpetrators have phone software that incorporates Apple and Google’s privacy guarantees.
Vance recommends that legal requirements should be crafted since this is an issue of public safety. Apple and Google may have made a conscious decision to make their devices inaccessible but law enforcement agencies should also figure out ways in which they would be able to access data and content if required, to do their job.