Google has confirmed that Android L, the upcoming version of its Android operating system, will have data encryption enabled by default, making it nearly impossible for law enforcement agencies to force the company to turn over personal information on the devices running the company's mobile OS.
Android has in fact offered encryption on some devices since 2011, but as the feature required manual activation, only a small subset of users have known how to turn it on.
"For over three years, Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement", Google spokesperson Niki Christoff said. "As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on".
Although Christoff indicated that the company has been working on the feature for months, interestingly, the announcement came just a day after Apple announced enhanced encryption for iOS 8, which according to the Cupertino-based company, makes it technically impossible for them to decrypt a device to access user data, even if law enforcement agencies request it.
Earlier this month, hackers leaked several private, nude photos of celebrities stored on Apple's servers. Although the iPhone maker later determined that none of its systems were breached, saying that it was a targeted attack on usernames, passwords, and security questions, the company beefed up its security by rolling out two-step authentication for iCloud.
Apple chief Tim Cook also published an open letter detailing how the company handles personal information of users, as well as government requests for the same.
While the move by both companies towards default encryption is laudable, it's definitely not the last nail in the coffin, as there's still a weak link: cloud storage. The law enforcement agencies could still force the companies to turn over user data stored on their cloud servers, and there have been instances when this has been done proactively.