Apple and Google are taking a stand on protecting users' privacy by standing up to government agencies that want access to personal data.
Data protection is top of mind for every solution provider. No matter the system being deployed or serviced, data security can never be compromised. One breach, such as what Home Depot is currently experiencing, can ruin an organization’s reputation and business to a point of no return.
However, the need for data security is at odds to a degree with society’s desire to share almost everything about their personal and professional lives through social networking. Match that with demand by users to have all data at their fingertips from whatever device they are using whenever they need it, and both personal data and privacy are at risk.
Through mobile device access and intuitive social networking sites such as Facebook, people have become desensitized as to who has access to their personal information and how that information is used. It’s a trade-off to a degree. The more information you share, the more your likes are matched and marketing you receive is more personalized, but the less privacy you have. It is not until people see a photo of themselves used in an ad or get spammed by digital marketing do they take notice and start realizing that maybe they have sacrificed a bit too much privacy for convenience.
Smartphones are the biggest culprit. It has made it so easy to share information that many people don’t really give much thought about what they are sharing, where they are sharing it and who has access to it. They have invited this invasion of privacy and it’s bad.
The U.S. government probably is the biggest culprit in abusing this access, admitting the National Security Agency has been tracking and keeping records of cellphone calls, texts and other communications. This is a gross violation of personal freedom, but no one really seems to care all that much until they hear that their records, conversations and other communications data is not only stored but can be retrieved at any time.
This may be painful for me to say, but that is why I am giving tremendous credit to both Apple and Google for taking a major stance to protect the privacy of their customers by encrypting their latest smartphones to protect private data, even from law enforcement. Now don’t get me wrong: I am a proud supporter of our police and other enforcement agencies, however, too much power corrupts and the right to privacy should extend to a person's mobile devices unless there is a warrant and the person is charged with a crime.
Apple's and Google's moves aren't sitting well with the Federal Bureau of Investigation—a federal government agency where the likelihood of such an abuse is greater because of the bureaucracy. In fact, FBI Director James Comey recently told the press that the agency is actually telling both companies their encryption efforts may get in the way of FBI investigations.
Realizing this invasion of privacy has gotten way out of hand, in Apple said it can no longer bypass smartphone user passwords with its recent iOS8 operating system. Apple even said in a blog post, "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.”
Not to be outdone, Google said not only did it already have such encryption for its Android OS, but future releases automatically will be encrypted by default so the user doesn’t even have to turn it on.
I have made no bones about it (and this is my view, not that of The VAR Guy) that I am not a big Apple or Google fan. But I do believe in giving credit where credit is due. We have come to a crossroads in society where sharing personal information has become commonplace and technology has made that possible. Government agencies have capitalized on this and at times abused it, violating the rights of its citizens. Apple and Google aren’t breaking any laws here. What they are doing is trying to gain public trust by saying it is going to protect our privacy as much as it can with its products—the rest is up to us. Good for them.
Knock 'em alive!