Was Apple right to deny the FBI access to the data on the San Bernardino’s terrorists phone? Apple says it has wider implications for privacy in general and that they wouldn’t be able to access any usable data anyway. As the debate has rage the FBI have been accused of using the same torture tactics commonly used by the CIA.
In justifying their efforts to get into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, the FBI is now using the same logic that the CIA used to justify torturing people who had no information to share.
From the start of the FBI’s efforts to get into Farook’s phone, it was fairly clear there’d be nothing on it. What kind of terrorist, planning to attack his co-workers at a holiday party, would coordinate his planning on his work-issued phone?
Plus, Farook went to some lengths to make data on his other devices unavailable. He destroyed two personal cell phones and successfully hid a hard drive. That he didn’t make the same effort with his work phone should have been the tip off for the nation’s top law enforcement agency that there would be nothing there. – source here
But it turns out the FBI had already hacked the i-Phone anyway. The debate has opened up a can of worms on the sacrosanct of privacy. Here is a timeline of the full events;
Last month, a federal judge asked Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, who was responsible for the shootings in San Bernardino in December which left 14 people dead.
The judge asked Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the U.S. authorities, which would require the technology giant to overhaul the system that disables the phone after 10 unsuccessful password attempts. Once this feature kicks in, all the data on the phone is inaccessible. Apple declined to help the FBI.
At the time, Apple chief executive Tim Cook called the order “chilling” and said that it would require writing new software that would be “a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks”. Cook’s argument was that if the FBI could access this iPhone, nothing would stop them from doing it to many others.
Law enforcement authorities insisted that it was a one-off request. As a result the case went to court.
Why was it controversial?
The case marked one of the highest-profile clashes in the debate over encryption and data privacy between the government and a technology company.
Law enforcement authorities say that encryption used by the likes of Apple makes it harder for them to solve cases and stop terrorist attacks.
Technology firms have kicked back, saying that encryption is key to protecting user data from hackers.
Data privacy has been a sensitive topic particularly after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of the government’s surveillance activities.
What was the outcome?
A hearing set for last week was postponed after the government said that it had found a third-party that was able to unlock the iPhone. Reports suggested that it was Israeli firm Cellebrite. This was never confirmed by the company.
On Monday, the Department of Justice said it had managed to access the data on the iPhone in question and asked the judge to drop the case. The FBI said in a statement that it could not comment on the “technical aspects” of how the iPhone was unlocked nor the third-party that was involved.
Apple said that it “will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data”.
It appears to be the best of a bad situation.
Apple stuck to its guns on defending civil liberties.
“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred,” Apple said in a statement following the dropping of the case.
The FBI got their desire result – getting access to Farook’s iPhone.
Still, there are questions about the effectiveness of Apple’s security.
Is this the end of it all?
Probably not. Rumblings between technology companies and the government are likely to continue.
Last month, several news outlets revealed that there have been numerous requests from law enforcement agencies across the country for Apple to help unlock other iPhones.
Apple will want to know how the FBI got into the iPhone in order for it to patch up any vulnerabilities in its software. The iPhone maker is likely to continue bolstering security in its software and devices. – source: CNN
Big brother is watching you. To paraphrase Laurence Oliver in The Running Man, “Is it safe-er”? Is it legal? Or are Apple hypocrites as the use our data everyday to sell us more stuff and to steal all our demographic data. Unless of course we opt out. In that case is there not an opt out button for the terror of big brother?
Or are you comfortable that the government is looking into your data to prevent you from terrorist attacks? Does this not go hand-in-hand with modern security. Are we all just a little too paranoid and concerned about our rights. The greater good and all that, the lesser of two evils? Or too much power in the wrong hands….
the debate will continue…..