Google plans ‘default data encryption’ for new operating system

Out-Law News | 23 Sep 2014 | 10:19 am | 1 min. read

Google has announced that its next mobile operating system Android L, which will be launched this year, will encrypt users' data by default.

The measure will make it more difficult for private information to be hacked, preventing thieves and law enforcement officials from gaining access to personal information on devices running Android L, according to Google.

According to a Google statement published by technology publication CNET: "For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement. 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."

Meanwhile, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook has said his corporation’s philosophy is that a "great customer experience shouldn't come at the expense of your privacy".

Cook said: “Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.”

In a reference to international concerns over data privacy issues, Cook said: “I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

Last July, Apple admitted that its staff can access information stored on 'unlocked' devices. It did so after a researcher, Jonathan Zdziarski, revealed he had been able to simulate the processes Apple staff can use to retrieve personal data stored on his own iPhone, including photos, text messages, notes, address book contacts and geolocation data.

Earlier this month, the head of Microsoft Germany said the company was considering the possibility of working with partners to develop a cloud data centre based in Germany, with the aim of alleviating national concerns over cyber security.

Microsoft’s proposal followed concerns in Germany over IT security, which have prompted the interior ministry to announce plans to end the federal government's contract with the US internet services provider Verizon over “revelations about surveillance by the US National Security Agency and its relations with US companies”.