While the more cynical folks out there have insisted that the tech industry is a happy partner with the intelligence community, the reality has been quite different. If anything, in the past many companies were simply… complacent about the situation, not realizing how important these issues were. That’s problematic, but the Snowden revelations have woken up those firms and enabled the privacy and security gurus who work there to finally get the message across that they absolutely need to do more to protect the privacy and security of their users. That’s why you see things like Apple’s new local encryption by default on iOS8, meaning that even if law enforcement or the intelligence community comes knocking, Apple can’t get much of your data off of your device.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “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.”
Within hours, it was reported that the next update to Android would also have the same default encryption.
“For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” said company spokeswoman Niki Christoff. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”
Of course, you can expect to see the DOJ pushing for new laws to somehow block this or get backdoor access. It may create a future fight worth watching. In the meantime, though, it’s great to see tech companies actually competing on how well they can protect the privacy of their users’ data from the prying eyes of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.