Stopping the killer app: Smartphone makers must be able to open their products to aid law enforcement
Since a weekend of mass shootings that stunned America didn’t rouse Republicans on common-sense measures to curb future atrocities, it’s no surprise that the multiple mass murders haven’t moved the nation’s technology companies to face their own failure to aid authorities in investigating these crimes.
Three years ago, in the wake of the San Bernadino terror attack, the FBI asked Apple’s assistance in gaining backdoor access to the terrorist’s smartphone. Citing customer privacy, even for a dead terrorist customer, Apple CEO Tim Cook refused.
Today, not two weeks removed from the horrific one-two punch of shootings in El Paso and Dayton, probing cops and the FBI are running into some technological roadblocks.
The Ohio killer reportedly had multiple phones. While the FBI was able to unlock one of his Amazon phones, it wasn’t his primary one. The FBI’s deputy director told a congressional committee last week that a basic six-to-eight character PIN could take up seven to eight years to crack.
What’s needed is legislation requiring smartphone makers to install encryption overrides that can by used by law enforcement with court-ordered warrants.
The information on a killer’s phone can be critical in an investigation — providing leads to potential accomplices or revealing the aberrant ideologies influencing individuals to want to kill countless numbers of people.
Just as the NRA shouldn’t be able to have an absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment, Apple, Samsung and their competitors shouldn’t adopt an absolutist approach to privacy to fatally encumber investigations into mass murder.