We’ve heard some pretty outrageous ramblings from the government regarding Apple’s use of encryption in its mobile devices in the past—including a claim from the Department of Justice that some day it will result in the death of a child—but Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. might have just dethroned the DOJ as king of hyperbole.
Yesterday morning during a radio interview, Vance claimed that Apple’s encrypted software will make the iPhone the communication tool of choice for terrorists:
“Apple has created a phone that is dark, that cannot be accessed by law enforcement even when a court has authorized us to look at its contents,” Vance warned on “The Cats Roundtable” show on WNYM/970 AM.
“That’s going to be the terrorists’ communication device of choice.”
Vance has a history of anti-encryption fear-mongering, though his previous statements haven’t been quite as inflammatory as yesterday’s.
It’s not a big secret that the government would like every opportunity possible to snoop into your email and text messages. From the revelation that “Big Brother” had backdoor access to mobile devices through its PRISM program to attempts by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director James Comey to convince (or use legal leverage to force) Apple and other tech companies to decrypt their mobile devices.
The issue isn’t constrained to the United States government, either. British prime minister David Cameron has previously voiced support for banning encrypted communication altogether—a sentiment with which the White House later said it agreed.
Apple first started encrypting all data on its iPhones with the release of iOS 7. Google followed suit with the announcement of full-disk encryption on its Android Lollipop operating system, though a later change allowed some phones to ignore that default setting.