FBI Director warns against new mobile phones with smart encryption technology

During the course of an hour-long speech and discussion at the Brookings Institution on Thursday, FBI Director James Comey warned tech companies against the increasingly strong measures they are putting in place for encrypting smartphone data and operating systems.

Comey said that companies like Apple and Google have apparently "gone too far" in offering encrypted cellphones, especially after Edward Snowden's disclosures about alleged snooping activities of the US government agencies.

Lashing out against the tech companies for encrypting smartphone data, Comey said that a locked cellphone or an encrypted hard drive can potentially hamper the efforts of law enforcement in fighting criminals. Comey elaborated that encryption of smartphone data can potentially stall murder cases; thereby thwarting justice and enabling suspects to walk free.

In reference to the stronger cellphone-encryption measures introduced by Apple and Google, Comey said that the move by such bigwig companies may prompt the administration to seek regulations and laws that would force companies to hand over users' personal data stored on mobile handsets.

Asserting that, in the wake of advancing technology, there is need for new legislation to allow law enforcement to intercept communications, Comey said: "We have the legal authority to intercept and access communications from information pursuant to court order, but we often lack the technical ability to do so."

United States