The FBI Says Apple’s New Encryption Is Deeply Concerning

Apple recently introduced many new privacy-focused features aimed at better protecting user data stored in iCloud, but while privacy advocates and human rights organizations applauded the move, law enforcement agencies expressed reservations. They’re not against improved privacy but instead fear criminals from all walks of life might abuse the privilege.

iCloud end-to-end encryption, or what Apple calls “Advanced Data Protection,” encrypts users’ data stored in ?iCloud, meaning only a trusted device can decrypt and read the data. ?iCloud data in accounts with advanced data protection can only be read by a trusted device, not Apple, law enforcement, or government entities.

In an emailed statement sent to the Washington Times, the FBI said Apple’s end-to-end encryption (opens in new tab) “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.”

Apple has recently introduced many new security-focused features, including iMessage Contact Key Verification, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, and Security Keys for Apple ID, but it’s the Advanced Data Protection for iCloud that has piqued the FBI’s interest. The new feature ensures that data stored in iCloud is encrypted from beginning to end, allowing only trusted devices to decrypt and read the data.

This is not the first time the FBI has had a run-in with Apple. Roughly six years ago, the FBI confiscated an iPhone device belonging to Syed Farook, one of the two perpetrators of a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. On December 2, 2015, the two murdered 14 people and injured 22 more.

The iPhone was locked, resulting in a major battle between the FBI and Apple, which claimed it lacked the means and desire to unlock the device. The dispute even reached the US Congress, with almost all of the country’s tech companies siding with Apple. The situation was resolved when the FBI, with the assistance of a third party, was able to unlock the device. Cellebrite, an Israeli mobile forensics firm, was later identified as the third party in question by the media.

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