As tech companies try to outdo one another in the battle to address user privacy concerns, the FBI is warning that new encryption methods might hinder investigations.
“If this becomes the norm, I suggest to you that homicide cases could be stalled, suspects walked free, child exploitation not discovered and prosecuted,” said FBI Director James Comey in a speech at the Brookings Institution Thursday.
The director’s concerns stem from recent measures taken by both Apple and Google to tailor their products’ default data settings to limit law enforcement’s access. According to CNN, Google’s Android phones are now encrypted by default, making it all but impossible for the government to gain access, and users are now able to fully encrypt their Gmail accounts. On Apple’s end, CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Charlie Rose last month that “if the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have the key. The door is closed.”
FBI director Comey added, “Encryption isn’t just a technical feature. It’s a marketing pitch. But it will have very serious consequences for law enforcement and national security agencies at every level.”