Opinion by Preston Gralla

Can the iPhone 6 really defeat the NSA?

There are loopholes in Apple’s claim, and law enforcement’s outrage seems disingenuous

national security agency headquarters fort meade maryland

People who prize their privacy may be eyeing the iPhone 6, which both Apple and various law-enforcement officials say can defeat attempts by government agencies to get people’s text messages, emails, photos, contacts, and more. But if you’re thinking of buying an iPhone 6 because you want assurance that the government can’t spy on you, you should be aware that claims of nearly impregnable data have to be taken with a grain of salt.

What is true is that the iPhone 6 has better privacy protection because encryption is turned on by default. Similar encryption is available on Android phones, but it’s not turned on by default. Google is expected to change that in an upcoming Android release.

Apple also says that it won’t turn over your encryption key to the authorities — and in fact won’t be able to. Each user’s encryption-key passcode will be known only to the phone’s user, and not to Apple.

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