Google Plans To Encrypt Android Data By Default - InformationWeek

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9/20/2014
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Google Plans To Encrypt Android Data By Default

After Apple CEO Tim Cook talks up iOS8 data security, Google says the next version of Android will shield data on devices more effectively.

10 Ways Google Must Improve Android
10 Ways Google Must Improve Android
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Following Apple CEO Tim Cook's declaration on Wednesday that Apple is unable to decrypt devices using iOS 8, Google let it be known that the next version of Android will shield data on devices more effectively.

Android has supported user-controlled device encryption since the debut of version 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), with improvements over the years. But now Google plans to turn device encryption on by default. A company spokesperson told the Washington Post, "As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on."

The next Android release is called "Android-L." No specific release date has been announced, but Google intends to deliver the update before the end of 2014, possibly as soon as October.

By turning device encryption on by default, Apple and Google are declaring their disinterest in surveillance-as-a-service. Government agencies often ask the companies to help them access data on smartphones seized in the course of investigations, when investigators cannot access that data on their own. When authorities make such demands in accordance with valid legal process, companies must provide whatever data they can access. Default device encryption means Apple and Google will be unable to assist authorities with data on devices, whether they want to or not.

[Will these move influence sales of wearables? Read Android Wear to Beat Apple Watch?]

"What is so interesting and smart about this move is that rather than [Apple] telling the government that they no longer want to help the government, they re-architected iOS so they are unable to help the government," Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst for the ACLU, wrote in a blog post. "Think of it as Apple playing a game of chicken, and the company has just thrown the steering wheel out of the window."

Google may find it harder to get credit for promoting privacy than Apple, because it's committed to collecting data about its users to help its advertising business -- a point to which Cook alluded. And as long as Google has accessible data, people will come asking for it. But Google deserves some credit. The company has already advanced online privacy in many ways, including its 2010 decision to enable HTTPS in Gmail by default, its Safe Browsing API, and its Transparency Reports, among other related initiatives. Apple's advantage is that it's in the hardware business, rather than the information business.

In any event, both companies, along with others in the technology industry, stand to benefit by embracing ignorance of customer data. By doing so, they should be able to mitigate the mistrust of cloud computing created by Edward Snowden's revelations about the scope of government-backed surveillance. Yet putting users in control of device data will only get them halfway there.

Neither Apple nor Google provides user-controlled encryption, by default or choice, in iCloud or Google Drive. Apple does encrypt most iCloud data, except for Mail and Notes, but because the company controls the encryption keys rather than the customer, it can provide access if necessary. Google Drive files are not encrypted -- doing so would limit sharing and collaboration -- but there are third-party file encryption options.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2014 | 12:15:12 PM
Re: Google and privacy
Dr.T,

From what I have seen and heard so far about Apple-They force you to backup all your Iphone Data to the iCloud(Yes the Same iCloud which was hacked and ended up displaying Private pictures of many Hollywood Stars like Jennifer Lawrence].

And Guess what?

The Keys for that Data in iCloud rest with Apple(not the Consumer seehttps://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/22/apple-data/)

Do you still Trust Apple?

I most certainly Don't.

Regards

Ashish.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Strategist
9/24/2014 | 5:41:09 AM
Re: Google and privacy
I agree. That is why Apple plays smart, if you do not know the key you could not give.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 1:08:29 PM
Re: And Google just lost its China Business...
Some Guy,

I loved your assertion-Rubber Hose Hacking!

LOL!!!

Yup,When everything else fails(for  a Government just Spy on everyone and everything).

The Default mode of Operation today,Most Unfortunately.

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 12:48:40 PM
Re: And Google just lost its China Business...
Dr T,

If you study the History of Chinese Censorhip of the Internet you realize there is no way(as long as the Communist Party is controlling the Reins of Power in China) is that they will adjust to changing Reality.

Its always the Technology Providers which have to bend to their rules(not the other way around).

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 12:37:46 PM
Re: Google and privacy
Dr T,

The Situation you are referring to here(Nobody but the Users should have Keys) is very much an Idealistic Sceanario which in todays world of Ever-Ready and All-Invasive Spying does'nt really happen.

Governments could very well mandate(maybe its hardly happening) that a Copy of those Keys will be available to Govt/Law Enforcement Agencies whenever they want it to(which is always).

If I remember correctly Some Governments forced even Blackberry(The most secure of Modern Day OSes) to hand over the Keys of their Enterprise Server if they wanted to operate in that country.

So why won't Apple/Google also fall in Line with their Requirements??

 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 12:32:33 PM
Re: Google and privacy
Jaggibons,

Yes I also feel it will benefit a lot of Less Technically-Savvy folks as a matter of Fact it will hopefully make them feel atleast a little bit more Safe online!!!!

 
Some Guy
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Some Guy,
User Rank: Strategist
9/23/2014 | 11:00:34 AM
Re: And Google just lost its China Business...
Not sure that it will be much of an adaptation by governments. It may get Google and Apple out of the middle, but governments will just fall back on the old tried and true rubber hose hacking.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 9:27:06 AM
Re: Google and privacy
On the flip side, I read a post on another site today about how default encryption still doesn't protect anything on the device if the device isn't password/pin/fingerprint/etc. protected and the user doesn't treat that phone like they would their wallet. Encryption is a great tool for privacy and security, but it can easily be rendered useless if the user is acting carelessly with the device.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 9:20:29 AM
Re: Google and privacy
It is good for business and I commend Google for paying enough attention that they recognize privacy is a big issue right now.  The average user will see this, feel good that Google is doing something and won't think much of it unless they are pressed by someone with a competitor's phone.  We heard a lot about Apple's walled garden when iOS first launched, I think Google is seeing the value there now.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Strategist
9/22/2014 | 3:14:08 PM
Re: And Google just lost its China Business...
Their best bet is still to give the keys to the users. Chinese government will have to adapt sooner or later.
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