Cellebrite, an Israel based forensics company helped the FBI access the contents of the iPhone 5C of a suspect who was allegedly involved in San Bernardino shooting last year may soon be exporting some of its tech to India. It should be remembered that the FBI resorted to Cellebrite after Apple refused to help on the grounds of violation of consumer privacy.
India’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) is in talks with Cellebrite to buy the technology that will allow it to unlock iPhones and other devices, on its own. According to a report by The Economic Times, India is purchasing the technology and the deal will materialize within a month.
According to FSL,
India will be a global hub for cases where law enforcement is unable to break into phones.
That means that the Indian government will also be able to help other countries in cracking encrypted devices.
As per the report, the Indian government has already taken help from the company in a few cases. Now, by buying out the technology it can crack encrypted devices as and when needed.
Whether or not the country will have monopoly over the technology is yet to be disclosed. Also, the circumstances under which it will help other countries around the globe with the technology are unclear. There are a whole lot of issues, ethical and legal, involved with using the tech to unlock devices.
In the San Bernardino case, the FBI paid Cellebrite over $1 million for its services. But there is still no information on how much will buying the technology will cost India.
The deal is yet to be finalized on paper, but FSL officials seem confident the government will complete the purchase soon.
With the buying of a technology like this, comes an extra responsibly on the shoulder of the buyer. The Indian Supreme Court should intervene once the technology is in the hands of the government and make a set of laws regarding the circumstances under which this tech be used — so that the privacy of the citizen is not violated unnecessarily.