Data encryption thwarts criminal investigations

According to Manhattan’s District Attorney, smartphone data encryption hinders criminal investigations in state courts. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 8, 2015 in an effort to advocate legislation allowing law enforcement officials to access private phone data with judicial authorization.

Vance, Jr. cites that 71% of phone evidence in his office comes from Apple or Android devices. As a result, Apple and Google’s move to fully integrate data encryption in their next devices will significantly affect prosecution processes in state courts.

State courts adjudicate over 90% of all criminal cases annually, which means over 100,000 cases for Vance’s office alone.

“To investigate these 100,000 cases without smartphone data is to fight crime with one hand tied behind our backs,” he asserts.

Vance does not support bulk data collection or surveillance without authorization. Civil liberty and privacy advocates are still wary, however, and endorse data encryption overall. This sentiment is in relative accordance with statements from Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey. They say that the Obama administration has no current plans to mandate companies to provide federal agents encryption keys for their products, but they also recognize that companies should not make their devices “warrant-free zones” that impede law enforcement’s authorized access to criminal evidence.

Article via Legaltech NewsAugust 10, 2015

Photo: IPhone via Jorge Quinteros [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]