A new bill that has been proposed in the US Senate could force Apple to build a data backdoor into its iPhones, to allow for easier access to customer information. The bill in question, if passed, could see Apple and other tech firms having to make their customer’s data readily accessible on devices as well as cloud services, by preventing them from adding string encryptions to the same.
Building Backdoors To Assist In Search
The bill, which is titled “The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act,” holds that should a tech firm be presented with a search warrant, it will have to assist the investigation by allowing access to data. This part seems to be in order with the current legislations as well, where the same companies are still obliged to assist in data access for lawful purposes. However, what does make this bill different is that it would make it legally compulsory for any tech firm selling more than one million device units in the States, to build a backdoor into its devices. That would be a major step away from the current scenario, where companies like Apple don’t have any means to unlock an iPhone and access the data of users.
Further, subsection (b)(2) of the bill asserts that phone/device makers need to provide assistance of the nature that would allow for decrypting or decoding of the information stored on devices or cloud services, unless an “unaffiliated entity” makes it technically impossible to do the same. So all in all, Apple, and other phone makers, will now be held legally liable for being able to get their hands on customer’s data.
What Will Users Think?
It remains to be seen how the move will be received by the US population, amid growing concerns of tech biggies spying on user data and making the same available to governmental authorities. As of now, only those files that are stored on iCloud can be made available for lawful purposes by Apple, since the same are not encrypted end-to-end. But one must also consider the fact that there has been an increasing pressure on the company to make its cloud more secure, preferably by including end-to-end encryption in the same.
Meanwhile, experts believe that the idea to build data backdoors into devices could significantly hamper customer security, as they assert that it is currently “impossible” to set up such backdoors which are accessible exclusively to law enforcement bodies, while keeping criminals at bay.