Apple: iPhone 6 Is NSA-Proof

Company says data on device can't be easily unscrambled, and FBI isn't happy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2014 1:29 PM CDT
Apple: iPhone 6 Is NSA-Proof
A customer holds his new iPhone 6 at an Apple Store in Augusta, Ga.   (AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Michael Holahan)

Apple says its latest iPhone has an encryption system that will keep users' emails and photos safe from the prying eyes of the NSA or any law-enforcement agency, reports the New York Times. The company says its algorithm is so complex that if it ever had to turn over data from an iPhone 6, it would take the NSA about five years to decode it. Even if Apple is underestimating the NSA's abilities, the principle isn't sitting well with FBI chief James Comey. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law,” he says. Comey cited the example of a kidnapping in which parents come to him "with tears in their eyes" and say, "'What do you mean you can't?'"

The Times report also quotes security officials who predict terrorists will quickly embrace such technology, along with a tech expert who says law-enforcement concerns are being exaggerated. In an earlier piece on the encryption by Matthew Green at Slate, Green says Apple isn't picking a fight with the government. "Apple is not designing systems to prevent law enforcement from executing legitimate warrants," he writes. "It’s building systems that prevent everyone who might want your data—including hackers, malicious insiders, and even hostile foreign governments—from accessing your phone." What's more, "Apple is setting a precedent that users, and not companies, should hold the keys to their own devices." Google has similar protection available for Android phones, though the encryption is not currently a default option. That will change with new Androids out in October. (In other iPhone 6 news, Apple said last week it's received only nine complaints about phones bending.)

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