Lawmakers, advocacy groups, Snowden take sides in polarizing Apple encryption debate

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
U.S. legislators, public rights groups and security experts are planting their collective flags in a debate that could have serious ramifications for the future of consumer encryption sparked by a recent court order forcing Apple to aid in the decryption of an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino terrorist attack,




While Apple has been waging a drawn out battle of attrition against government efforts to build software backdoors into its secure iOS operating system -- a policy Apple says would weaken or negate strong encryption -- the situation rapidly escalated over the past 24 hours.

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the company to comply with FBI requests for assistance in unlocking an encrypted iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Law enforcement technicians are looking to facilitate a brute force attack, but need specialized software capable of bypassing iOS 9's passcode counter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took immediate action, vowing to fight government calls for privileged hardware access in a letter posted to his company's website just hours after the order came down. For Cook, the issue has implications far beyond a single iPhone, an argument floated by the White House on Wednesday.

"In the wrong hands, this software -- which does not exist today -- would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," Cook said.

There is also the matter of precedent. If the U.S. is allowed special access behind Apple's veil of encryption, some argue other countries will ask for similar treatment. In a slippery slope argument China, a state known to trample on consumer privacy rights in the name of perceived security, would be Apple's most pressing threat. China already holds uncommon leverage as one of Apple's largest and fastest growing markets; a U.S. precedent could tip the scales beyond recovery.

In the aftermath of yesterday's court order, lawmakers have taken to Twitter, cable news and other media outlets with hot takes on the matter, a sampling of which has been collected by The Washington Post.

Those standing alongside Apple include Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Security advocates, most notably Edward Snowden, also threw in with Apple, as did the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This is an unprecedented, unwise, and unlawful move by the government. The Constitution does not permit the government to force companies to hack into their customers' devices," said ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal. "Apple is free to offer a phone that stores information securely, and it must remain so if consumers are to retain any control over their private data."

Siding with the FBI are Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), while presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich voiced similar support from the campaign trail.

With a steadfast Apple, helmed by an equally resolute Cook, under immense pressure from both law enforcement officials the U.S. judicial apparatus, the fight for consumer encryption could take months, if not years to resolve. Apple is already flexing its legal muscle with plans to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, according to CBS News. In the meantime, the company intends to seek a stay on the recent FBI court order until its appeal is decided.
macky the macky
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    macky the mackycali
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Seems like the US politician's pick and choose which part of the US Constitution they want to agree with at the time.
    manfred zorndesignrlostkiwimacky the mackycali
  • Reply 3 of 21
    I assume that one of the first things Tim Cook did was to ask his hardware engineers to get started moving the autowipe feature into the ARM processor silicon so that this government mandated workaround won't work with future generations of iPhones.
    cornchiplostkiwicali
  • Reply 4 of 21
    I'm glad to see that Tim Cook isn't going to allow the Government access to the encryption process of iOS. They would end up making everyone their bitch.
    cornchiplostkiwicali
  • Reply 5 of 21
    jagnut said:
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    Trump is just a piece of crap DEM in disguise. He will bail on everyone just before the Primaries. Mach my words.
    cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 21
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    gofaster said:
    jagnut said:
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    Trump is just a piece of crap DEM in disguise. He will bail on everyone just before the Primaries. Mach my words.
    Donald Chump, a clown in politics!
    cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 21
    The Constitution is inconvenient for a reason! I am not a lawyer but I think Apple is within its rights to appeal this order. I do not particularly like Apple and I hate the terrorists but the responsibility for managing the access to this particular iPhone belongs to the government. I will explain why: The phone belongs to a government agency. The government agency was supposed to implement MDM (mobile device management) on all the mobile devices handed out to the employees. All the mobile devices (phones, laptops...) that are registered under the MDM have to be audited at least every year The IT department of the government agency will have a separate dedicated Apple ID capable to unlock the phone when presented with the proper judge order. The fact that the government agency does not follow the law either by incompetence or disregard (like in we are the government, the laws do not apply to us) does not have to create a liability on everybody else right to privacy
    colinngkibitzer
  • Reply 8 of 21
    A legal precedent can be established if Apple will comply in removing the brute force protection.
     Any back door can and will be exploited outside this single case either by hackers or governments (note the plural)
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Trump reaction show what a moron he can be!
     quote: "To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone — who do they think they are?" Trump told Fox News. "No, we have to open it up."
     The court order refers to a phone owned by a government agency that handed out iPhones without following the proper security rules. Mobile device management has been available for quite some time. Did the government agency read the memo?
     A legal precedent can be established if Apple will comply in removing the brute force protection. Any back door can and will be exploited outside this single case either by hackers or governments (note the plural)
    latifbpcali
  • Reply 10 of 21
    We were all told by the FBI that such access would be appropriate in the case of a ticking time bomb or the kidnapping and impending murder of a child. Now the FBI wants in to the phone of someone they already know about, "just to see if there is anything more." Please, Mr. Cook, fight them all the way to the Supreme Court.
    macky the mackyairmanchairmanmr odamn_its_hotkibitzercali
  • Reply 11 of 21
    jagnut said:
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    While I too am disappointed by Kasich's stand on this matter, he seems the best of the lot on all other issues. I don't think he thought this through.
  • Reply 12 of 21
    myopicman said:
    We were all told by the FBI that such access would be appropriate in the case of a ticking time bomb or the kidnapping and impending murder of a child. Now the FBI wants in to the phone of someone they already know about, "just to see if there is anything more."
    .
    Not just someone they already know about, but who is also very dead, already neutralised...
  • Reply 13 of 21
    sandorsandor Posts: 505member
    Seems like the US politician's pick and choose which part of the US Constitution they want to agree with at the time.
    welcome to 240 years of US history.
    this is how the three branches of the United States government has worked since the beginning.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    gofaster said:
    jagnut said:
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    Trump is just a piece of crap DEM in disguise. He will bail on everyone just before the Primaries. Mach my words.
    Do your words go that fast? (I assume that was supposed to be mark my works not Mach my words.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    The Constitution is inconvenient for a reason! I am not a lawyer but I think Apple is within its rights to appeal this order. I do not particularly like Apple and I hate the terrorists but the responsibility for managing the access to this particular iPhone belongs to the government. I will explain why: The phone belongs to a government agency. The government agency was supposed to implement MDM (mobile device management) on all the mobile devices handed out to the employees. All the mobile devices (phones, laptops...) that are registered under the MDM have to be audited at least every year The IT department of the government agency will have a separate dedicated Apple ID capable to unlock the phone when presented with the proper judge order. The fact that the government agency does not follow the law either by incompetence or disregard (like in we are the government, the laws do not apply to us) does not have to create a liability on everybody else right to privacy
    Some clerk that gave him the phone did not follow the rules so now all security on the iPhone will be reduced to some drivel and simple as a Caeser cypher or a frequency analysis that is worthless.
    Does not anyone realize a similarity between the Jailbreak fisticuffs, which the hackers hack and the breakers break (which has added no real value to the use of the iPhone secret, feature or not -- How do we stop this from happening -- many will look at this as simply another challenge. I do recognize the order magnitude that this would step this up; remember the first group that Jailbroke a iPhone to prove it could be done then Apple patched that. A similar thing happened with DVD DRM but the same cyclic process continues (backed by a rather large purse) is one to believe that ISIL,ISIS,al-Qaeda, etc... Although these 'groups' had different goals they all did manage for some while to to get past the lock -- which was in fact the actual goals.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,657member
    jagnut said:
    Well, I am disappointed in Trump, Kasich, Gowdy and others in looking to weaken the security of iPhones. I am disappointed as they obviously do not see the bigger picture of weakening everyone's security to all sorts of factions including China.  And to think I was even considering of voting for Kasich in the South Carolina primary.  
    While I too am disappointed by Kasich's stand on this matter, he seems the best of the lot on all other issues. I don't think he thought this through.
    They all say the same thing. Even the current guy in office. It's sad but that's politics. 
  • Reply 17 of 21
    I have started a petition on ‘We the People’ asking the President to intervene in this matter. Please sign this petition so that we can get the 100,000 signatures needed to elicit a response from the White House.

    Direct Link: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/direct-doj-respect-constitution-and-stop-harassing-apple

    The text of the petition is shown below:

    Direct the DOJ to Respect the Constitution and Stop Harassing Apple
    Today, a Federal Judge, at the behest of the DOJ, ordered Apple to compromise the security of their iPhones. This unlawful order is specifically designed to allow the DOJ to violate the rights of all US citizens and deprive us of our due process rights.

    Despite spending billions of dollars, and violating our civil rights, by illegally snooping on our calls and emails, the NSA did not prevent even one terrorist attack. Remember, the Boston Bombing and the San Diego attack occurred while the NSA was listening to our phone calls.

    We ask the President to protect Apple, and millions of law-abiding US Citizens, from government overreach by directing the DOJ and the FBI to do withdraw their request, and do their jobs within the limits of their Constitutional authority.
  • Reply 18 of 21
    Hypocrisy galore Snowden . Break the law, intrude, steal, reveal , invade all without autorization if it suits him... But others should not do it.. And im not even talking about the right and/or wrong of the encryption issue .. Its not as easy as yes or no. Im taking about obnoxious hypocrisy .
  • Reply 19 of 21
    a lot of us are paranoia and self centereness and Naïveté Listen folks… Unlocking a phone by a court order is not the same as a back door…. Or conpromising an activly encrypted phone when in use. Plus Government can search my home with the proper court order. The most privet place to me . Government can tap my land line with court order. And has for decades with proper court order. Government can confiscate my computets with proper court order and search the HD… ( iphone is a pocket computer ) This is not an either or case …… Its way more complex and consequential to just leave it in hands of dogmatic idealism . Creat the proper provisions and everyone wins. Times changes… so should we… … Thats fundimental to survival. In the meanwhile apple is loving the Publicity .. ;)……. It may even all be by design …..(. After all its months we have been screaming for apple PR to wake up)..lol
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 20 of 21
    enufenuf Posts: 19member
    Snowden is a traitor who deserves arrest, trial and a long period of imprisonment. He is unlikely to get that, but one can dream happy thoughts...


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