FBI vs. Apple Battle Intensifies Overnight
Apple has long heralded itself a champion of protecting individuals’ privacy and encryption rights. With the FBI pressuring Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, Apple is proving it will practice what it preaches.
The iPhone 5C belonging to one of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, is locked with a 4-digit passcode, and the court is ordering Apple to build an update for the phone–software that currently does not exist–to override the phone’s security feature that erases all data when more than 10 incorrect codes are entered. Once the update is installed, the FBI plans to hook up the phone to a computer to try every possible combination until it unlocks.
Although everyone, including Cook, would like the FBI to gain access to the dead terrorist’s information, Apple realizes that the U.S. government is attempting to use a case involving a particularly despicable terrorist to set a precedent about personal privacy rights at large.
Apple said the FBI is mandating unprecedented compliance based on the All Writs Act of 1789, instead of seeking legislative action from Congress. If the FBI convinces Apple to make it easier to unlock an iPhone, “it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data,” Cook said.
At the news of Cook’s letter, support for Apple flowed in from numerous tech companies, including WhatsApp and Google, plus support from several privacy rights groups.
In a series of tweets, Google CEO Sundar Pichai opened up about his thoughts on Apple’s ongoing battle with the FBI, stating “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy. We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent.”
On the other side of the fence, many lawmakers, and even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, have sided with the FBI.
"I agree 100% with the courts...Who do they think they are? They have to open it up," Donald Trump told Fox news on Wednesday, referring to Apple's decision to fight a court order to help the FBI unlock Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone, which had been encrypted.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) also released a statement voicing its support for the FBI.
"This is a country of laws and no one, not even Tim Cook, is above that. He stands here, without any legal merit, actively choosing to ignore a federal court order. His arrogance has given him a false sense of superiority when it is in fact his responsibility as an American citizen to recognize and adhere to our system of laws, which were put in place to ensure both individual and national security. Tim Cook does not get to decide what laws he must comply with. That’s not the American way of justice," FLEOA said in the statement.
Gregory T. Nojeim, director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said the federal government is essentially trying to win access that it failed to gain through legislation in recent years.
"If this decision is upheld, it would mean the FBI could get a judicially-mandated back door into any device to get access to its content, and it would mean a weakening of encryption in all those devices," he said to the L.A. Times.
Apple is expected to appeal the order in the coming days. The case is far from being over, and may end up at the desk of the Supreme Court.
Posted in General News