FBI tries to fight cellphone encryption

By Anthony Silva |Staff Writer|

20141023_090528The FBI has begun preparations to take action against Apple and Google’s plans to keep cell phone information private, according to a New York Times article.
Apple and Google announced new software that would automatically make the contents of any cell phone private by using codes that the companies claim they won’t be able to unlock.
This announcement came in the wake of last year’s National Security Agency (NSA) leak, in which Edward Snowden disclosed confidential documents about government agencies collecting information on Americans.
The proposed encryption would make law enforcement investigations involving phones difficult, according to the New York Times.
Apple and Google described the encryption as algorithms that would take the government months to crack if they needed access and insisted that consumers create their own encryption to make their information even more secure, according to the New York Times.
According to Zack Taylor from the CSUSB Technology Support Center, encryption is defined as, “the process of translating user content into a combination of Hexodecimal and Binary code. The more combinations of this code that are used, the harder it would be for hackers to get access.”
Apple and Google stated that information such as phone wiretaps and text messages sent before the new encryption software is released would not be affected and remains accessible..
Taylor believed that the new encryption may go further than what was originally anticipated.
“The new encryption that Apple is planning to release would actually make it harder to wiretap phone calls as well as any Face time calls and Google’s new operating software, Lollipop would encrypt all Google Hangouts messages,” said Taylor.
The FBI views cell phone information as a valuable source that they cannot afford to lose.
The agency fears that if the proposed encryption is a success, it could carry over from cell phones to personal computers as well as laptops.
When asked about the FBI’s opposition to the proposed encryption, several cell phone executives stated that they would not postpone their plans, but actually increase their efforts, according to the New York Times.
Supporters of the new privacy measures believe that if the U.S. government is given the ability to bypass encryption,hackers and foreign agencies could potentially do the same.
Many students appear to be looking forward to the new encryption software when it becomes available.
“My phone is my property, so everything on there should be private. I think it’s good that Apple and Google are making us feel safer,” said communications major, Mark Klopping
President Obama’s advisory committee recommended that the government not interfere with any commercial software and urged U.S. companies to increase their encryption, according to the New York Times.
Before last year’s NSA leak, the FBI was in the process of requiring cell phone companies to provide unencrypted information if they were served with a court order. While that process has since been discontinued, the FBI is hopeful that Apple and Google do not completely cut off access to law enforcement.



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