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Apple Can’t Hand Over Your Data Even if Requested by Police

Monday, November 17th, 2014

In a move that is likely to be appreciated by privacy conscious users, Apple has decided not to provide access to data stored on iPhones even if there is a search warrant issued for it. In the previous versions of iOS, the company stored encryption keys which allowed it to unlock devices to comply with legal requests. However, starting with iOS8, the data stored on an iPhone would encrypted with the passcode chosen by the user which would make it technically impossible for anyone (even the law enforcement agencies) to access it unless the correct passcode is supplied.

The above security measures would be applicable for photos and documents stored on your device, contacts, call history, text messages, FaceTime calls as well as messages sent through iMessage. It is worth mentioning here that the company already encrypts communications happening between two Apple devices so there is no way for anyone to access your personal data while it is in transit. While encryption itself is not new to iPhones or iPads, Apple has now decided to protect almost all types of data with it and hand over the responsibility of choosing an encryption key to the users.

The latest security feature from Apple comes weeks after a series of celebrity photo leaks tarnished its reputation. It must also be kept in mind that most Silicon Valley companies are still recovering from the disclosures made by Edward Snowden so the latest move from Apple is a step in the right direction. In the aftermath of the celebrity photo leaks, Apple introduced several new security features (including 2-step verification for iCloud) as well as unveiled a new privacy policy. By introducing encryption features tied to passcode, Apple hopes to restore customer confidence and distinguish itself from its competitors.

Few months back, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that police must issue a search warrant to obtain data stored on a mobile device. The latest encryption methodology used by Apple would help it to insulate itself from legal problems. Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, has already stated that the company doesn’t provide access to its servers (not even to government agencies). However, it must be kept in mind that while Apple won’t be able to decrypt data stored on an iPhone, it is legally bound to hand over data stored in an iCloud account if a search warrant is issued.

The latest encryption techniques used by Apple would finally allow users to keep their data secure from unauthorized access. However, you must choose a strong alphanumeric passcode to protect your data since the simple passcode enabled by default in Apple devices can be cracked easily. In addition, you must also disable automatic copying of data to iCloud since it would be available to Apple and law enforcement from over there. With its latest move, Apple has finally shown that it truly cares about user privacy and is even willing to introduce features that may not be liked by the U.S. government or law enforcement agencies to protect it.

November 17, 2014

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