Remember the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution? The one that says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated […]”? Remember that one?
While the Founding Fathers surely couldn’t have predicted that smartphones would be a thing, ever, their still covered under good ol’ Amendment IV. The modern US government apparently doesn’t give a flip, however. The FBI is strongly considering asking Congress to force companies to provide a “back door” so that law enforcement can obtain protected and encrypted data from US citizens’ mobile devices.
Even Republicans Think It’s A Bad Idea
If nothing else, that ^^^ should tell you just what a huge violation of our rights this would be. Fie on your privacy, FBI Director James Comey said (more or less). “We’re hoping to start a dialogue with Congress,” re: updating laws requiring tech companies and service providers to comply, Comey said at a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington last week.
It seems, however, that a vast majority of legislators would be against such booshwa. Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, and just about every other party has weighed in opposition. Not long after the Edward Snowden BS-crap went down, a White House advisory panel formally recommended that laws should “not in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software.” News flash, FBI and NSA: Americans don’t want to be spied on.
House Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), chairman of the Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Oversight Subcommittee, stated recently, “I don’t think any legislative response is warranted until Congress passes the USA Freedom Act” and other NSA reforms. Sensenbrenner authored the poorly-named but well-intentioned USA Freedom Act, which would prohibit law enforcement and surveillance goons from collecting Americans’ personal data from electronic devices.
“This problem has been caused by the administration overreaching in terms of grabbing all the data from people’s smartphones and computers. That’s what the NSA has been doing for years now, and Apple and Google are responding to it,” Sensenbrenner said.
Google & Apple vs. The Man
Last month, Google and Apple announced that the next-gen OSs in their mobile devices (Android and iPhone, respectively) would provide full encryption for users’ data. With these new security measures, no one can access data without the password the users selects—not the FBI, not the NSA, not even Google or Apple.
The gubment is, unsurprisingly, not cool with that. Law enforcement officials are hoping to convince Congress to update the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to include a provision that would require tech companies to provide the FBI, NSA, and other government agencies with a “back door” to a device with an appropriate warrant.
“This sort of encryption creates a virtual sanctuary for criminals who are very determined and smart,” said Ron Hosko, former head of the FBI’s criminal division. (Isn’t that the whole thing?) Hosko neglected to mention that it also protects the average, non-criminal citizen against being spied on, which is a thing that actually does happen all the time in modern America.
Congress “has an obligation to look at these issues, to hold hearings to understand the interests, and balance them,” Hosko added, forgetting, apparently, the interests of American citizens, which, again, include not being spied on by their own government. Hosko also clearly forgot about the Fourth Amendment.
Not Everything is About YOU All the Time, Government
Google’s and Apple’s upgraded encryption features also provide security for users should their phones be lost or stolen. Without the password, it would be all but impossible for someone to hack into the stored data on these mobile devices.
“[…] This is a great move by Apple and Google, and a win for everyday users of mobile devices,” said Jeremy Gillula of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There has been a gap, and Apple and Google are basically closing it.”
At this point, with the gubment already all up in everybody’s business all the time, “closing the gap” of security is the best we can hope for. Closing the gap FTW!