Yesterday we posted a report titled "McCain, Feinstein & Head of Senate Intelligence Committee Calling for a Debate on Encrypted Networks," revealing that Senator John McCain would be holding a series of hearings and eventually pursue legislation that would require tech companies like Apple and Google to rework their latest encryption software. Today, even with a search warrant, law enforcement agencies around the world are unable to access information on smartphones. Late yesterday CNN Money reported that "In a stark report issued Wednesday, the Manhattan District Attorney's office makes a detailed case showing how modern day privacy tools protect criminals -- and get in the way of police investigations." The report specifically called out Apple and Google."
And trying to show the benefits of more police power, the report noted 8 recent cases in which photos or messages found on an unlocked iPhones and other devices provided key evidence in an investigation.
One unlocked iPhone contained a video of a shooting that led to a murder conviction. On another phone, Internet browsing history and text messages helped cops catch two accused rapists now facing life in prison.
The report is part of mounting international pressure to combat the biggest challenge in law enforcement today: the inability to track terrorists who "go dark" by encrypting their communications.
"We are drifting to a place in America where lawful court orders... that are the lifeblood of our criminal work to protect children, fight gangs... to stop bad things from happening... are ineffective because devices are protected by encryption," Comey said.
We noted on Monday after the terror attacks in Paris that next-gen encryption would be back in the spotlight and all this week the issue has been front and center in the press. It's no doubt a hot button issue that was ramped up due to the timing of the Cybersecurity Conference being held in New York this week.
And because New York experienced terrorism on and before 9/11, it's understandably a hotter issue in New York. Today an editorial on the matter was published by the New York Daily News titled "Apple, Google and ISIS: Strong encryption on smartphones that makes them totally impervious to legal searches is a threat to public safety." The editorial ended as follows:
"High-tech leaders like Cook and Schmidt are only making life easier for ISIS and other malefactors by putting the content on phones out of the reach of authorities who have warrants or are in the throes of a dire emergency. This is not a gift from God, it is a gift to the evil from profit-driven executives."