As Apple forays into new channels that further penetrate consumers’ lives -- including virtual payment and health monitoring -- the company is putting its foot down when it comes to user privacy.
With its new mobile operating system, iOS 8, which launched yesterday, Apple is now encrypting mobile data so deeply that it will be impossible for the company to provide iPhone and iPad records to police -- even when officials furnish an appropriate warrant.
Going forward, only users who possess a four-digit passcode will be granted access to the substantial record of photos, messages, emails, contacts, call history, music and more that reside on each device, the company said.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company wrote on its website. “So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must obtain warrants to search citizens’ cell phones -- though the release of iOS 8 would seem to hurdle this law altogether.
Devices eligible for iOS 8 include the iPhone 4s and beyond, all iPads except for the first generation and the fifth generation iPod Touch.
Apple’s renewed emphasis on security, including a letter from CEO Tim Cook and newly-restated privacy terms on its website, arrives on the heels of a hacking scandal earlier this month, in which leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Kate Upton were chalked up to an iCloud vulnerability.
The iOS 8 update, however, does not extend to iCloud, notes The Washington Post, and therefore Apple must still legally turn over user data being stored over the cloud. “Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud.”