Apple to Challenge FBI's Backdoor Order

NicoleMotta on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at 10:28:25 AM

Apple to Challenge FBI's Backdoor Order

In an open letter to its customers, Apple announced that it plans to fight a court order to mine iPhone data.

"The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake," said Apple in its letter. The case at hand is last December's San Bernardino shooting and Apple has complied with "valid subpoenas and search warrants" for this and other cases. However, on Tuesday, District Court Judge Sheri Pym, ordered that Apple help the FBI brute-force the passcode on one of the shooter's devices. The ruling says that Apple's assistance should do three things: bypass or disable the auto-erase function, enable the FBI to submit passcodes via "the physical device port, Bluetooth, WiFi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT," and ensure that the iPhone's software does not interfere with the FBI's passcode attempts. Essentially, Apple explained, the FBI wants the company to "make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation."

In response to this demand, Apple said that it feared for users' safety with the creation of this new OS. "The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. While the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control," said Apple. "The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable." Apple is expected to find allies in privacy advocates in its fight against this ruling.

Photo: © iStock.


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