US tech giant Apple is rolling out new security measures aimed at protecting customers’ private data from Law enforcement agencies and snoopy intelligence agencies. Under the new policy, Apple will not have access to customers’ passwords making it nearly impossible for the firm to unlock your device even with a court order.
The new privacy terms under its latest mobile operating system iOS 8, aims at safeguarding iPhone and iPad devices against any unlawful access. According to a statement posted on Apple website, all personal data such emails, call history, iTunes contents, messages notes and reminders will be placed under the customer’s passcodes.
Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of the data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.
Apple CEO Tim cook affirmed the company commitment to protect customers’ confidentiality. In a message to Apple users, Mr. Cook assured users that the sole business of Apple was to make great products, not to monetize the information stored on iPhone or iCloud. He assured customers that Apple don’t read their emails or use the same for marketing purposes.
Apple and other Tech firms have recently been on the spotlight for how much information they share with the intelligence agencies behind their clients’ back. Leaked intelligence documents by whistle blower and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden raised concerns over the involvement of tech firm in government surveillances programs that compromise the privacy rules.
Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the tech giant over such allegations. Mr. Cook asserts that Apple has never participated in any government surveillance program or allowed access to their main servers. However, Apple does comply with legitimate court orders as required by law.
Earlier this month, Microsoft another US tech giant was at crossroad with federal courts over Privacy rules. The software company faced contempt of court charges after refusal to hand over it’s oversee data to US prosecutors investigating a drug trafficking Case.
The prosecutors had obtained a search warrant to check emails of an account controlled and managed by Microsoft servers based in Durban Ireland. Microsoft defied the court order to hand in the data citing privacy rules. In its defense, the software company argued that the emails belonged to its customer and the servers located in Ireland were not under US jurisdiction. Handling over of such data would also contravene Irish Law.
Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the District court in New York had ruled in July that Microsoft is a US company and thus should comply with US Laws. According to the New York Times, this is the first time a US corporation has challenged a court warrant seeking data held in oversee databases.
The ruling caught the attention of other firms including, AT&T, Apple, Cisco and Verizon, who fear losing customers. Apple and Cisco both of whom own international data centers, have filed a Friend of the court brief in support of Microsoft appeal.
By disregarding the laws of the country where the data is stored, the magistrate’s analysis places providers and their employees at significant risk of foreign sanctions and threatens a potential a loss of customer confidence in US providers generally. Stated Apple and Cisco.
Apple and Cisco fear that the ruling was also likely to encourage other foreign enforcement agencies to take similar action and use foreign laws to forces the release of data stored in United States. This would contravene US disclosure Laws and possibly cause an International crisis.
Tech firms have recently been on pain to prove to clients that they don’t allow access to their personal data without putting up a fight. The Tech firms also fear losing potential customers to foreign competitors who are better positioned to gain customers confidence as better providers.
In some instances, potential customers have decided not to purchase services from Microsoft and opted instead for a provider based outside the United States that is perceived as being not under US Jurisdiction. Argued Microsoft.
If this trend continues, US technology sector’s business model of providing cloud internet-based services to enterprises, governments and education institutions worldwide will be substantially undermined.
This case comes in the wake of intense criticism of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in regards to privacy laws. DOJ holds that Microsoft is stretching the privacy Law. In a filling by United Stated Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, “companies cannot defy court warrants by simply storing their data oversee.” According to him, a win for Microsoft would be impede law enforcers ability to gather evidence on Criminal activities
Whichever way the case goes, Industry experts expect these ripples in the Tech world to cause a paradigm shift in privacy policies. Like Apple, many tech firms may start encrypting their user data in a bid to keep off snoopy government agencies. If a company does don’t have access to the encryption Keys, then such a company cannot be held liable for handling over the data making it completely inaccessible to the authorities.