Tag - Law enforcement
It has been revealed that some areas of law enforcement in the United States were able to get into a locked iPhone as part of a murder investigation, during the public disagreement between the FBI and Apple over the San Bernardino encrypted iPhone took place. According to a report, investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department managed to get into a locked iPhone 5s, without requiring Apple to unlock it for them.
It can be argued that we're always on the cutting edge of technology -- every day there are new advances, and new techniques developed to do legacy tasks some other way. Likewise, hardly a day goes by without a new lawsuit from an entrenched company, claiming that this new way somehow infringes upon, or unfairly penalizes, an old-guard way of doing business. Lately, this has expanded to law enforcement trying to use the courts as an ad hoc tool to do end-runs around thorny Constitutional questions. Through bad rulings and bad legislative proposals, the inability of our judicial and legislative leaders to keep in step is increasingly making the existing problems even worse.
The US House of Representatives has unanimously voted in favor of approving a bill that could help prevent US citizen's emails from being easily accessed by law enforcement. The Email Privacy Act, which would require security forces to gain a warrant before being able to access email accounts, was approved with a vote of 419 for the bill and no votes against, with the bill now set to move towards the Senate on its way to becoming a law.
Canadian law enforcement has had backdoor access to BlackBerry devices, it has been revealed, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police obtaining the global encryption key for BlackBerry devices since 2010. Information revealed in court documents relating to a murder involving a Montreal crime syndicate shows law enforcement as being able to intercept and read approximately one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages as part of an investigation.
In a transparency report on its dealings with the US government, alternative ride provider Uber Technologies has revealed that it provided data on more than 12 million riders and drivers to the government -- but that nearly all of it was abstract statistical reports to various US regulatory agencies. The company did, however, show that it would provide details of trips, pickup and drop off areas, fares, vehicles, and drivers to law enforcement when requested, but had just 415 requests from such agencies on just 469 users -- mostly revolving around the use of stolen credit cards. Importantly, Uber said it had not received any FISA orders, or national security letters to obtain data on drivers or passengers.
Thanks to a motion to unseal filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), it has been revealed that the FBI is again trying to use the All Writs Act, a law from 1879 that can in some circumstances be used to ask companies render technical assistance to law enforcement, to force Apple to decrypt an iPhone (believed to be an iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 9.1) in a gang-related case. Since the case that the FBI later dropped in San Bernardino became public, it has been revealed that the FBI, contrary to its claims, has attempted to use the AWA some 63 times to try and force companies to decrypt encrypted communications.
Following the government's withdrawal of its lawsuit attempting to coerce Apple into building a "backdoor" system that would allow law enforcement access to nearly any smartphone or mobile device, Apple has issued a statement reminding the public that the iPhone did and will continue to "help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated." It said the case "should never have been brought" in the first place.
Apple may have an unusual ally in its fight against the FBI over device encryption, with the head of the United Kingdom's spy agency appearing to partially side with the company. Speaking at MIT yesterday, GCHQ director Robert Hannigan suggested law enforcement should work more closely with technology companies to find ways to bypass security on a device without deliberately weakening it, and also without adding a backdoor to encryption processes.
The ongoing debate between the US government, law enforcement, and Apple over encryption has brought another public figure into the fight. NYPD counter-terrorism chief John Miller has warned Apple's decision to prevent law enforcement from being able to access data on a smartphone is actively helping criminals by designing a system that "made [Apple] not able to aid the police" in their investigations into crimes.
Under oath during a Congressional hearing on Thursday to answer questions about the FBI's battle with Apple over encryption, FBI Director James Comey was forced to admit that the outcome of the court challenge will "guide how other courts handle similar requests" from law enforcement, conceding that the agency's demands would have on impact beyond the current investigation -- walking back previous comments that the agency wasn't trying to set a precedent or "set a 'master key' loose upon the land."