Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have, since the 1990s, contended that the increasing adoption of advanced technologies could facilitate the criminal organization’s communications through encrypted and secure communication channels, and ‘going dark’ in the process (Kehl et al., 2015). Cutting-edge technologies have undoubtedly had a significant impact on the state powers’ ability to gather and efficiently analyze large volumes of data on its citizenry to help deliver better services. Nonetheless, criminal organizations have also leveraged the power of such technology to either perpetrate crimes or evade detection as it is challenging to intercept digitized means of communications from a technical viewpoint (Açar, 2017). The revelations of Edward Snowden and the rising privacy concerns have brought scrutiny to client-to-client models, with technology companies shifting more towards centralized cryptographic foundations, reducing client control over private communications. Hence, it becomes impossible for service providers to comply with judicial orders to intercept and gather content data. Also, service providers do not suffer liability for criminal activity conducted through their products or services since they are unaware of what happens on their platforms. The current report seeks to establish whether the government can force tech companies, such as Apple in the recent Pensacola shooting, to help it break into the phones of known/ suspected terrorists.

Continue reading