Apple: FBI Wants Access To Many Different iPhones - InformationWeek

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2/24/2016
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Apple: FBI Wants Access To Many Different iPhones

Despite the FBI's insistence that it's focused on the San Bernardino terrorism case, authorities want access to more than one iPhone.

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In the name of protecting people from terrorism, the US government has gone to war against the private sector and its ability to build secure technology products. The Justice Department is seeking a court order to force Apple to create software that will enable FBI investigators to crack the password protecting encrypted data on an iPhone used by one of the shooters in last year's San Bernardino terrorist attack.

The FBI insists it is making a narrow legal demand that's relevant only to a specific case. "We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly," said FBI director James Comey in a statement. "That's it. We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land."

However, according to an Apple legal filing last week, law enforcement authorities have sought court orders to compel Apple to unlock at least a dozen other iPhones in nine cases working their way through US courts. In a list of FAQs posted on Apple's website, the company claims that law enforcement agents have said they have hundreds of phones they'd like to unlock.

Apple insists the FBI's demand is broad because it would establish a legal precedent that would allow similar demands to be made to any company or individual in the future. "If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone's device to capture their data," said CEO Tim Cook in a letter to Apple customers.

(Image: Mutlu_Kurtbas/iStock)

(Image: Mutlu_Kurtbas/iStock)

In a New York Times op-ed column published on Monday, New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton and NYPD Intelligence and Counterterrorism Deputy Commissioner James J. Miller acknowledge, "The ramifications of this fight extend beyond San Bernardino." They assert that they're not asking for a back door. "Complying with constitutionally legal court orders is not 'creating a back door'; in a democracy, that is a front door."

But it remains unsettled whether or not the FBI's demand is lawful.

In a democracy, this door, whether framed as a front door or back door, is barred when authorities impose an "unreasonable burden." As George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr suggests in The Washington Post, the court system will have to decide whether the FBI's request represents an unreasonable burden. That won't be an easy decision. Kerr asks if that standard should reflect whether "the subject company has a business strategy that includes opposing government surveillance requests."

In short, is uncompromising security a legal product?

The American public narrowly favors the government. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 51% of US adults surveyed say Apple should unlock the iPhone to help the FBI. About 38% disagreed and 11% said they didn't know.

Present and former leaders of technology companies, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, have voiced support for Apple.

[Read Tim Cook vs. FBI: Why Apple Is Fighting the Good Fight.]

Technical experts largely appear to agree with Apple's characterization of the situation and of the risks compliance poses to its business. In a blog post last week, Jonathan Zdziarski, a computer security researcher and iOS forensics expert, explains that the FBI isn't asking Apple to provide the data on the iPhone in question. It's asking the company to create a forensics tool, which requires exposure of Apple's technology to third-parties.

Zdziarski goes on to suggest that the Justice Department's assertion that Apple will be able to keep its tool secret is disingenuous, because doing so would violate the norms of forensic science, where digital tools must be validated independently.

"Not only is Apple being ordered to compromise their own devices; they're being ordered to give that golden key to the government, in a very roundabout sneaky way," explains Zdziarski. "What FBI has requested will inevitably force Apple's methods out into the open, where they can be ingested by government agencies looking to do the same thing."

Indeed, if the US government can demand Apple's assistance, governments of China and Russia can be expected to seek similar service, not just from Apple, but from Google, Microsoft, and every other company.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2016 | 12:56:32 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
Pedro,

This is precisely the issue/worry raised by not just Apple but by most of the Tech Industry in America.

How would America react if Russia demanded that Apple unlocked a phone of a suspicious person in Russia?Or worse,provide a backdoor?

We (both society & IT industry in particular)just are'nt ready/prepared for such a situation today.

I have no doubt though about the Hue and Cry the US Govt will raise if the Putin Administration raises such a request.LOL!!!
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2016 | 11:57:07 AM
Democracy???
re: "They assert that they're not asking for a back door. 'Complying with constitutionally legal court orders is not 'creating a back door'; in a democracy, that is a front door.'"

I'm not sure what 'a democracy' has to do with anything, but the USA is *supposed* to be a Constitutional Republic. So, it's irrelevant what that Pew poll says, unless enough of the public wants to push through a Constitutional ammendment overturning the 4th ammendment.

Given that the role of government is to 'protect and defend the Constitution' not 'protect the American people' it doesn't much matter that some crazy judge ordered Apple to do something unconstitutional, democracy or not.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2016 | 11:50:23 AM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
I doubt it was incompetence. I think they knew exactly what they were doing. I doubt they even care about what is on THIS phone... it's simply a good emotional case to try and push through.

Why didn't they just wait until the phone made it's next backup?

If there is any incompetence, it was the shooters employer in how they set it up, otherwise they'd already be in. But, I'm doubting the FBI doesn't understand how these phones work and just went, oopsie!
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2016 | 10:24:26 AM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
I'm sure that if the American government is able to do this.  Dictatorial countries will no doubt use that as a precedent and regular citizens will suffer in the end.   What will be the alternatives; can the government really force tech companies to have any door whether is back or front access to the government watch?
Ashu001
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0%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2016 | 8:39:44 AM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
Thomas,

Yes I figured that must have been one of the obstacles(apart from further Politicizing this event);but is'nt that what happened eventually?

After the FBI handed over the same to Apple-This is precisely what they said-"We are unable to retrieve the data because the Passcode has been changed.";Why not take up the offer of McAfee's Team atleast for a few oppurtunities?

Anyways,no point in debating this issue any further as the data is now lost for all practical purposes thanks to typical Government Incompetence.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2016 | 6:38:50 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
>What does the FBI have to lose by taking up that offer?

Its data, after 10 incorrect guesses. I doubt the FBI would gamble on McAfee's attempt without some assurance of success.
Ashu001
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0%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2016 | 8:46:37 AM
Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
Thomas,

What's your take on John McAfee(The US Presidential Candidate for the Libertarian Party) offer to Unlock the Terrorists iPhone for Free and that to WITHOUT a Backdoor?

What does the FBI have to lose by taking up that offer?

The more I read about the case,the more I realize that as it is all Previous iPhones(upto iOS 7) used to handover all consumer Data directly to the NSA(very clear in Snowden Documents);so what makes them feel they won't be able to get the same Data from the NSA even today?

All they have to do is Ask the NSA???

I am not surprised that there is next to Zero Coverage of the Libertarian Party in MSM but that does'nt mean he is'nt the Real Deal.

Why not takeup John McAfee on his offer on a test-run?As it is Apple has admitted that because the FBI changed the Passcode on that particular iPhone they won't be able to retreive most of the Data ;that's when we call the Pros,The real Pros. Don't we?
<<   <   Page 4 / 4
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