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Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Slows Down N.S.A.

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Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Remind me again why warrantless searching of personal information is a good thing again? Oh, right, TERROR, and that old shibboleth, kidnapping. Yeah, count me in the “Why not just get a warrant” camp…

The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.

The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.

Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take “more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.)

Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey.

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

If the NSA and related agencies hadn’t been so damn aggressive circumventing American law, perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to taken this additional step.

Or as Vikas Bajaj writes:

Apple’s new privacy policy does nothing to prevent law enforcement from searching an iPhone or an iPad if they obtain a warrant from a court to do so. The company is merely saying that Apple will no longer be able to unlock those devices for investigators as it did previously. The police will still be free to hack into the devices, just as they are authorized to kick down the door to a house or use a blowtorch to open a safe that they have been given permission to search.

But that’s not good enough for Mr. Comey and others. They want Apple (and Google, which makes the Android mobile phone software) to do the hacking for them.

Furthermore, investigators can often get information stored on phones and tablets through other means. For example, they could get the calling history from wireless phone companies like AT&T; same with text messages. And companies like Google and Yahoo would have to turnover messages on their servers if presented with a search warrant. Lastly, law enforcement agencies could also access any photos and videos stored on the phone have been backed up to Apple’s iCloud servers from the company.

(click here to continue reading Using Scare Tactics to Fight Apple – NYTimes.com.)

Cops on Bikes
Cops on Bikes

Plus there is the issue of a dysfunctional Congress, too mired in partisan bickering to actually update the laws for a modern age. Mostly on the Republican side, but not exclusively.

The move raises a critical issue, the intelligence officials say: Who decides what kind of data the government can access? Until now, those decisions have largely been a matter for Congress, which passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1994, requiring telecommunications companies to build into their systems an ability to carry out a wiretap order if presented with one. But despite intense debate about whether the law should be expanded to cover email and other content, it has not been updated, and it does not cover content contained in a smartphone.

At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.

Surviving in the global marketplace — especially in places like China, Brazil and Germany — depends on convincing consumers that their data is secure.
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has emphasized that Apple’s core business is to sell devices to people. That distinguishes Apple from companies that make a profit from collecting and selling users’ personal data to advertisers, he has said.

and a bit of rationality:

Mr. Zdziarski (Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher who has taught forensics courses to law enforcement agencies on collecting data from iPhones) said that concerns about Apple’s new encryption to hinder law enforcement seemed overblown. He said there were still plenty of ways for the police to get customer data for investigations. In the example of a kidnapping victim, the police can still request information on call records and geolocation information from phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

“Eliminating the iPhone as one source I don’t think is going to wreck a lot of cases,” he said. “There is such a mountain of other evidence from call logs, email logs, iCloud, Gmail logs. They’re tapping the whole Internet.”

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:02 am

Posted in Apple,government

Tagged with , , ,

One Response to 'Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Slows Down N.S.A.'

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  1. There’s something tone-deaf about the “kidnapping” rationale. This is a specifically 21st century question, but they resort to fanning a timeless fear. Like they’ve lost on the merits so are trying to distract.

    Marty

    27 Sep 14 at 10:03 am

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