Real news from the privacy world

Android Follows Apple by Encrypting Their Users Data

Google announced that their latest version of their OS Android L that should be released next month will encrypt data by default. Their main competitor, Apple, started offering similar feature for iOS 8 users this Wednesday.

Even though the feature enabling Android users to encrypt their data was available since 2011, only a few people knew how to enable it. Understanding this problem Google is going to make it default and devices will encrypt the data automatically. Password of the device will be required to watch videos, photos, media and other data stored on the device.

The features that Apple has launched recently and Google is planning to release next month are going to make it close to impossible to obtain data from the cellphones even for officials that are gathering evidences if the owner of the device does not provide the password. These moves by Google and Apple follow many other American technology companies in making their products more resilient to government investigation. Many people became more interested in the prospects of strengthening their virtual privacy after they found out that NSA and government might be spying on them.

Commonly used encryption by Android and Apple smartphones may have a drawback. The decreased accessibility of information may stall a lot of investigations as Supreme court ruled that they need the information stored on the phones to solve most of the cases. With more developers providing ability to encrypt their information it is possible that in the future no legal actions will allow officers to investigate the content of the phone making the investigation slower.

Nevertheless, people concerned about their privacy are extremely happy with the moves by Google and Apple. The change that seems to be welcomed the most is a decision to make the encryption automatic. Chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Techonolgy Joseph Lorenzo Hall said that people do not like to take actions in order to turn on some features thus not using them at all. When the encryption is automated the feature will be used by majority of device users making J. L. Hall very excited.

Even though both Google and Apple have been engaged in enforcing their user privacy one difference between them is likely to remain for a long time. Since Apple develops iOS for their own devices, they are able to deliver the feature to all of their new iPhones and iPads and most of the older devices. However, Google that is providing their Android OS to other manufacturers making the deployment of new features not as easy and fast. It may take up to a few years till most Android devices have encryption by default.

With an increasing attention from mobile software developers towards privacy we should also take steps to improve our personal information’s security by using services like VPN on our desktops and handheld devices that does not have data encryption enabled yet.

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