While Apple has made many headlines this month for the release of its new generation of the iPhone, this week the company has caused quite a stir with its latest announcement regarding its desire to enhance the encryption that protects its smartphones.
In its press release, Apple asserts that it has never collaborated with a government agency from any country to create a backdoor in its products to behoove governmental surveillance. The release continues with an explanation of a controversial new quality of Apple’s latest mobile operating system – personal data will be protected by a password wall that Apple claims it cannot bypass.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
Some technologists have interpreted this announcement as a clever marketing ploy. As American consumers become more aware of governmental surveillance (especially in the aftermath of Snowden revelations), companies stand to gain much by appearing pro-consumer and pro-privacy.
But some members of the government do not consider this move so innocuous. The Wall Street Journal reports that several officials have responded with outrage, charging that the new level of privacy will simply enable criminals. While the encryption likely will not stop high-level investigations, the greater privacy could hamper smaller scale searches.
The tension is another example of the push-and-pull between privacy and security. Whether or not Apple’s actions will elicit future responses remains to be seen.