Tech

Google Chairman: Feds Can Blame Themselves For New Phone Encryption

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor

If law enforcement agencies want someone to blame for Android and Apple’s new smartphone encryption standards, they should look to themselves according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

“The people who are criticizing this should have expected this,” Schmidt told a crowd at a Wednesday Silicon Valley event reported by The Hill. “After Google was attacked by the British version of the NSA, we were annoyed to no end, so we put end-to-end encryption at rest as well as through our systems, making it essentially impossible for interlopers of any kind to get that information.”

Intelligence leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year revealed how the Government Communications Headquarters — NSA’s British counterpart — worked with NSA to break into the servers of Google and Yahoo to steal user data via a program codenamed “MUSCULAR.”

Law enforcement heads at all levels across the country — including Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Comey — have been criticizing Google and Apple since the companies announced new encryption standards for their smartphone users last month, which the law enforcement reps argue will make it easier for criminals — especially pedophiles trading in child pornography — to evade arrest. (RELATED: Eric Holder: It’s ‘Worrisome’ That Apple And Google Are ‘Thwarting’ Law Enforcement By Encrypting User Data)

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden — a staunch critic of the NSA and advocate for U.S. surveillance reform — hosted the event to highlight the negative economic impact resulting from bulk surveillance.

“What’s needed is to find laws that ensure that liberty and security are not mutually exclusive, so that companies aren’t forced to duke it out with the government in technology labs in order to retain their customers,” Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said. “It is time to end the digital dragnet, which is harming America’s liberty and our economy without making America safer.”

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