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Apple upsets FBI with its end-to-end encryption move


Apple plans to let users encrypt additional data categories, including backups and photos.

Until now, iCloud has protected 14 data categories using end-to-end encryption, including passwords and health data.

Users who opt-in to the Advanced Data Protection feature will be able to encrypt seven additional categories, including backup, notes, and photos. The only major category not included is mail, contacts, and calendar because “of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.”

“Advanced Data Protection is Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, giving users a choice to protect the vast majority of their most sensitive iCloud data with end-to-end encryption so that it can only be decrypted on their trusted devices,” said Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture.

Apple said encrypted data would remain protected even in the case of a data breach in the cloud.

Apple said it felt an urgent need to enhance security, given that the total number of data breaches more than tripled between 2013 and 2021, exposing 1.1 billion personal records globally in 2021 alone.

While privacy experts undoubtedly welcome the move, law enforcement seems upset. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI views end-to-end encryption as a threat and prefers encryption that providers can decrypt when served with a legal order.

“The FBI continues to be deeply concerned with the threat end-to-end encryption and user-only-access encryption pose. This hinders our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyberattacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism. End-to-end and user-only-access encryption erodes law enforcement’s ability to combat these threats and administer justice for the American public.”


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