FBI 'Deeply Concerned' Apple's iCloud Encryption Will Empower Criminals

On Wednesday, Apple announced that its iCloud storage will now offer complete end-to-end encryption, a move that the FBI said made them "deeply concerned" as it prevents them from adequately protecting the American people from a variety of attacks.

"This hinders our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyber-attacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism," the FBI responded in a statement.

"In this age of cybersecurity and demands for 'security by design,' the FBI and law enforcement partners need 'lawful access by design'," the agency added.

The FBI said that if a company is "served with a legal order" it should be compelled to decrypt a user's information and then hand over that data to law enforcement.

The agency said they were "deeply concerned with the threat end-to-end and user-only-access encryption pose."

End-to-end encryption removes the ability of the host service to access a users' data and is a deeper level of digital protection against outside parties, including hackers or law enforcement with a court order. Facetime and iMessage were both protected with end-to-end encryption before iCloud added the feature.

Apple has faced criticism that the added security enables a variety of criminal activities such as sex and child trafficking.

The Associated Press reports that last year Apple tried to address those concerns with the CSAM feature which empowered iPhone software to scan for child sexual abuse material. However, Apple dropped the program soon after its announcement after a large number of users expressed their objections

Contacts, email, and calendar information is not added into the deeper encryption but backup, notes, and photos are covered in the new feature with Apple calls Advanced Data Protection, which will roll out in early 2023.

Reuters reports that in January of 2020, Apple capitulated to requests by the FBI not to add the enhanced encryption. According to the outlet, Apple, "dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company's iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations."

President Donald Trump commented on the issue back in 2020, writing: "We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN."


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