Google can remotely access 74% of Android devices if court ordered

Warrants could affect older iOS versions as well

Android

A fact not known by most, a document posted on Reddit has revealed that, if ordered by a court, Apple and Google can remotely change your passcode on devices with older versions of iOS or Android.

The document was prepared by the New York District Attorney's Office, and examines the role of smartphone encryption and public safety.

Currently, if there is a court order - at least in the US - Apple and Google are required by law to essentially bypass passcodes set by a person in order to access the contents of that device for investigation purposes.

However, Apple and Google have both added full-disk encryptions to iOS 8 and Android 5.0 and beyond, which means that they can no longer be remotely accessed by the two tech giants.

But surprisingly, The Next Web reports that there are nearly 74.1% of Android devices that have no been updated to Android Lollipop 6.0, according to the Android Developer Dashboard, which Google can remotely access currently if handed a warrant to do so.

On the other hand, there are only about 9% of devices using versions older than iOS 8. It should also be noted that Android 5.0 doesn't enable full-disk encryption by default, while iOS does.

Law amendments?

While you may feel more secure in the privacy of your phone if you have a new device, the New York DA's Office is arguing that this may cause a hinderance to law enforcement investigations.

"Apple's and Google's decisions to enable full-disk encryption by default on smartphones means that law enforcement officials can no longer access evidence of crimes stored on smartphones, even though the officials have a search warrant issued by a neutral judge," the document reads.

It is hoping to pass a bill that would force companies to make sure they can decrypt phones if court ordered.

"The federal legislation would provide in substance that any smartphone manufactured, leased, or sold in the US must be able to be unlocked, or its data accessed, by the operating system designer," the document reads, adding that compliance of this won't require new tech or costly adjustments.

"It would require, simply, that designers and makers of operating systems not design or build them to be impregnable to lawful governmental searches."

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