Stop smartphone encryption cries FBI chief Comey

Stop smartphone encryption cries FBI chief Comey
FBI chief James Comey spoke at a gathering at the Brookings Institution on Thursday, and reiterated his feelings about smartphone encryption. It is a subject that the top gun at the FBI says "threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place." On one hand, we have smartphone users desiring more privacy, especially in light of the rumored Snowden disclosures about the NSA demanding information from carriers and manufacturers. On the other hand, there is law enforcement, claiming that they need to be able to access this stream of information in order to do the job that the public expects it to.

Comey laments the added security that iOS and Android devices have, or will soon have. This new focus on security will mean that both companies won't be able to unlock phones and tablets to turn over pictures, documents, email and recordings. He is also up in arms about encryption. While the FBI chief admits that encryption is a valid selling point aimed at smartphone users, he sees it as a detriment to law-enforcement.

Comey rejects the notion that the FBI should be happy just to receive the metadata that includes phone numbers and location data. The FBI chief says that without knowing the content of these conversations, the information supplied by the metadata might not be enough to corral a criminal. He gave an example about how unencrypted information taken out of two cellphones belonging to a predator, helped find him guilty of murdering a 12 year-old boy. The convicted murderer is now on death row.


There are other examples given by Comey, but his point was made. And in an effort to try to get smartphone users to come over to his side, he pointed out that unencrypted information pulled from a handset, can also help prove someone innocent when the evidence points to his conviction. Comey says that the pendulum has gone too far in one direction post-Snowden, and he is merely trying to help the FBI protect both liberty and security.

source: FBI via BGR

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