FBI Director James Comey: Thoughts on Encryption

Igor Bobic and Ryan J. Reilly, The Huffington Post:

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Last week Apple announced your passcode in iOS 8 encrypts data on your iOS device, and Apple has no way to comply to government requests for personal data on your iOS device. I do not want to make blanket statements about the FBI — the FBI employs a couple of my friends — but it seems Comey believes making it difficult to gain access to personal information on your mobile device is somehow above the law. I am not aware of any laws that make it illegal to encrypt your personal data on your phone.

The only way to access personal data on an iOS device is to acquire the iOS device and figure out the passcode on it. That figuring out the passcode part is what the FBI needs to work on. Fortunately for the FBI as more and more people use their fingerprints as passcodes, it will not be too difficult to unlock TouchID-locked iOS devices. Most suspects are fingerprinted, right? Of course shrewd villains will turn off their iOS devices, which will require the passcode to be typed in upon reboot.

I do not envy the difficult job of protecting the United States and her citizens from threats.