FBI Director Takes Issue With Apple and Google Smartphone Encryption Technology

There's a fine line between privacy and safety, and the question we face as a nation is how much information should government agencies be allowed to access? Privacy advocates would argue that the U.S. government is stepping way over the line with the level of spying it's capable of, and in the aftermath of that all that, Google and Apple have implemented strong encryption schemes into their latest mobile platforms. This isn't sitting well with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

James B. Comey, director of the FBI, heavily criticized Google and Apple for their decision to lock down smartphones with encryption that's so strong, law enforcement officials would have a tough time breaking in, even when they have a search warrant.

"There will come a day when it will matter a great deal to the lives of people...that we will be able to gain access" to encrypted devices, Comey told reporters, according to The Washington Post. "I want to have that conversation before that day comes."

President Barack Obama and FBI Directors
James B. Comey (left) stands next to President Barack Obama (center) and outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (right)

That conversation will come soon. He's already made initial contact with Google and Apple, and when he gets a chance to sit down with each one, he'll press them on why they're marketing a technology that allows people to "place themselves beyond the law."

It was just last week that Apple proudly proclaimed how iOS 8 protects its users from prying eyes with built-in encryption. Apple chief Tim Cook posted a message to the company's website saying that Apple has never worked with any government agency to create a backdoor into products or services. On a separate page describing Apple's privacy safeguards, the company brags that it wouldn't be able to comply with a wiretap order even if it wanted to because due to encryption.

Google has been offering encryption as an optional feature since 2001, though beginning with the forthcoming Android L build, the feature will be enabled by default.