Obama: Smartphone Data Encryption Should Not Hinder Police, Spy Agencies

If you believe that your privacy is important - so important that the government can't even breach it - you're not going to like president Obama's latest comments. During a meeting at the White House with UK prime minister Dave Cameron, it was established that both leaders share the same stance on user privacy: you're fine to have it, as long as the government can peer in.

With the latest release of Apple's iOS and Google's Android, both companies have proven that they believe that consumers have the right to their privacy. Both of the latest OSes have introduced encryption that they claim they can't even break through - not even if law enforcement comes knocking.

President Obama
Flickr: Barack Obama

That move of course has spooked the government as well as law enforcement, and really, this is an issue that's not going to get agreement from everyone. Even in this post-Snowden era, many believe that the government should have the right to spy when it feels the need to. It's "for our safety".

I consider that to be a loaded sentiment, and believe that as usual, the government wants to hop on the path that most benefits itself, plain and simple. In effect, both Obama and Cameron would rather that encryption don't exist, or if it does, they at least have a master key that could intercept transmissions whenever it likes, similar to wiretapping. Of course, at least on the US side, it's being said that court orders would be required to go forth with such an action, but given what Snowden revealed to the world, you'll have to excuse me when I let out a hearty laugh.

Last fall, the EFF said that smartphones are usually not the piece of an investigative puzzle that solves a crime. While it'd be truly ignorant to say that phone or communications access would help solve some crimes, I don't think us signing over our rights to be spied on is proper justification.

If what results from this is that companies can't employ their bulletproof security, little good is going to come from it. Companies would have to develop their security software to have holes on purpose, and researchers who discover those holes wouldn't likely want to come forward with them. This would simply be a horrible precedent. An undeniably scary one.


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