Apple made a big deal of its dedication to user privacy back at WWDC and it seems to be sticking to that promise. The Cupertino based company has encrypted the iMessage platform well enough to ensure that US law enforcement can’t snoop on the communications and now, after being approached directly for the data, Apple refused.
FBI Director James Comey previously spoke up against Apple’s and Google’s efforts to protect user data and legal action was hinted at. The Justice Department obtained a court order demanding that Apple turn over iMessages between suspects in real time. Apple has responded that it cannot comply because the messages are encrypted and cannot be decrypted by them. Apple doesn’t store its own copies either. It should be noted that iMessages uploaded to iCloud aren’t encrypted and Apple has handed them over in the past.
Since Apple isn’t a telecommunications company, it is not covered by the wiretap law which allows law enforcement agencies to listen to our telephone conversations in real time, if necessary. This could, however, prompt the government to make security back doors compulsory, a move which is facing opposition from experts and companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google.
The battle between tech companies and law enforcement agencies is heating up over the question of user privacy, with both sides having some valid points. Former US national security officials have spoken for encryption in the past, noting that intentionally adding back doors weakens the entire system. FBI Director James Comey, on the other hand, has pointed out that terrorist organisations like ISIS use mobile messaging apps which are encrypted to recruit new members. He has also called for appropriate oversight and has promised that privacy will be breached only in necessary situations. It remains to be soon who wins this battle of privacy, considering behemoths like Apple and Google have already made their stance clear.
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