FBI Director James Comey told reporters Thursday he’s worried that new privacy standards being adopted by smartphone companies Apple and Google could help criminals evade law enforcement.
“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” Comey said during a press briefing Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports. Comey said the agency has begun engaging the companies in talks about the new standards “to understand what they’re thinking and why they think it makes sense.”
Apple announced last week that with the release of the company’s latest mobile software, iOS 8, user data including messages, emails, photos and contacts will be automatically encrypted in order to protect it from data requests by the U.S. government. Google announced similar new standards shortly after. (RELATED: Apple Will No longer Unlock iPhones For Law Enforcement, With Or Without A Warrant)
Comey said it might be time to have a national conversation about the balance between privacy and security, and about whether we are “doing things that no longer make sense, that are no longer consistent with our commitment that we are a country of law where no one is beyond the law.”
“I don’t think that the country, or the government’s found the right balance,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week during an interview with Charlie Rose about the company’s new privacy push. “I think they erred too much on the collect everything side.” (RELATED: Tim Cook Won’t Let Apple Be A ‘Treasure Trove’ Of User Data For NSA)
Cook said he won’t let Apple become a “treasure trove” of private user data for the NSA.