According to a report written by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Google and Apple, Inc. can gain remote access to smartphones and tablets with earlier variants of iOS or Android if they are court-ordered to do so. If the device is not encrypted, access may be obtained without the owner’s permission, or knowledge.
At this present time, a court order can force Apple or Google to break into an electronic device, remotely, to get access to information. This obtained data is then available for examination by authorities. On the other hand, Apple and Google have both added full-plate encryption to iOS 8 and Android 6.0
According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the encryption in the newer software is by default and will prevent legal authorities from obtaining access to any evidence of crime from one’s smartphone or tablet remotely. Evidence will have to be gathered directly from the device with the owner’s permission.
Apple’s iOS 8 and higher is encrypted by default, but the user is only protected if the password is put in place. However, according to Apple, nine-percent of their users are operating iOS 7 or older. Android’s 5.0 Lollipop enables encryption, but not by default. Android 6.0 Marshmallow enables encryption if the user takes advantage of the password protection.
Yet, reports from the Android Developer Dashboard state that 74.1 percent of Android devices have not been upgraded to Android Lollipop 5.0. An upgrade in software and a password can prevent the remote access by Google, even if a warrant were to be served. It ought to be noted that Android 5.0 does not empower full-circle encryption while the iOS program does. This extends to the cloud storage as well.
Google has stated that it cannot remotely access any device that is protected by a password, pin, or fingerprint, whether or not it is encrypted. This includes all Android electronic devices.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office believes these technology giants should be able to gain access to possible criminal evidence if they are served with a warrant because they designed the device. If the companies are incapable of retrieving data from a smartphone or tablet, they developed then they are considered to be negligible.
Authorities in law enforcement believe that both tech giants should be required to use encryption, that if court-ordered, they can get around the security put into place by the user via password, pin, or fingerprint. The companies have been accused of creating digital safes for possible criminal evidence.
The New York district attorney’s office has written legislation that will force creators of smartphones and tablets to essentially break-in to the phone when served with a warrant. This could open a door to angry cell phone users who feel their rights are being pushed beyond the limits of the Constitution.
Written by chandrababu kandregula
manhattanda: Report on Smartphone Encryption and Public Safety
TechRepublic News: Why Citizens Need Encryption as a Fundamental Human Right
Image Courtesy of Jon Fingas’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License