Apple's lead attorney frames encryption debate as digital arms race, says only US asking for privil

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2016
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday meant to shed light on the contentious encryption debate, Apple's legal chief Bruce Sewell toed the company line with privacy rights and slippery slope arguments. He added, however, that America is the only country asking Apple to break its encryption amidst a wider cold war between tech industry players and nefarious agents.




After reading a prepared statement, Sewell fielded questions from members of the committee trying to wrap their collective heads around the complex issue.

Apple sits on one end of the debate, arguing for the right to create, maintain and market strong digital encryption methods to its customers, a position shared by the broader tech industry, security experts and civil rights groups, among other interested parties. On the opposite end is the Justice Department and state security hawks, which seek tools to thwart encrypted operating systems like iOS in the name of national security. Both sides cite public safety as an ultimate goal in their arguments, but the respective means that would facilitate that end are dichotomous at best.

As stated in past public appearances by Apple CEO Tim Cook and lawyers representing the company, Sewell said the issue boils down to precedent.

Two weeks ago a magistrate judge ordered Apple to comply with an FBI request to assist investigators in unlocking an iPhone 5c linked to last year's San Bernardino terror attack. A cooperative effort would require Apple to create and sign a flawed operating system that suppresses the subject iPhone's passcode counter, as well as a time-sensitive passcode entry limiter, thus allowing a brute-force attack. Further, Sewell said Apple is being asked to create a method for bypassing iPhone's touchscreen input mechanism, assumedly to facilitate rapid code attempts from a computer.

The company is resisting the court order, and consequentially facing pressure from the DOJ, saying that the creation of such a tool will be met with dire consequences. Aside from undue burden, Apple is looking to protect the millions of users around the world that rely on iOS safeguards to keep their data secure. Once a workaround is created, Apple argues, the entire system becomes vulnerable to attack.

"We see ourselves as being in an arms race with criminals, cyber terrorists and hackers," Sewell said, adding that Apple is trying to create a safe and secure environment for its customers in spite of such threats.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor and security expert Susan Landau seconded Sewell's assertion, adding that the creation of an intentionally flawed operating system is a dangerous path to an empty well. Organized crime syndicates, hackers and even governments would be after that tool, and having it fall into the wrong hands could lay bare the personal data of millions of smartphone owners. For her part, Landau advocates for a law enforcement apparatus better equipped to develop its own forensic tools. More importantly, the FBI and other agencies need to evolve their investigative methodology, as the root of the problem lies in applying 20th century techniques to 21st century threats.

The comments come after FBI Director James Comey admitted that his agency would "of course" leverage the precedent gained by successfully compelling Apple's assistance in unlocking other devices, a statement that runs counter to previous claims that Apple's aid would be restricted to one phone. Comey participated in a separate panel earlier in the day.



Overall, the line of questioning seemed to bode well for Apple, but the hearing was not without debate. Perhaps most substantial was a biting evaluation of Apple's stance proffered by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who pointed out the company has not, unlike the FBI, proposed legislation to which it would be amenable. Thus far Apple has merely complained about shortcomings in American jurisprudence without offering suggestions toward a potential solution, Gowdy said.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), self-professed privacy hawk, also touched on the issue, saying that by not furnishing a proposed remedy, Apple is leaving the decision wholly up to Congress.

"I can tell you I don't think you'll like what comes out of Congress," Sensennbrenner said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    Urei1620Urei1620 Posts: 88member
    It is all about Comey, only his opinion matters...
  • Reply 2 of 35
    Urei1620Urei1620 Posts: 88member
    Only in the US because the FBI wants to spy on all of us.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,208member
    I have to state how happy I am that the swarms of trolls had a die off.

    I'm guessing trolls hatch, find a website, troll a few threads, and expire in their basements from the constant snacking. I'm not sure how they reproduce.

    Gnats probably live longer. These aren't the traditional Tolls like in the film Trollhunter.
    kevin keequadra 610bestkeptsecretlatifbp
  • Reply 4 of 35
    If the US government forces Apple and other US companies to weaken their encryption or provide backdoors, then companies based in other countries, or individual citizens will create stronger encryption disregarding the US government. This only stands to put US law abiding citizens at a disadvantage. Any such law would be a grave mistake.
    lostkiwibaconstangkevin keetdknoxlatifbp
  • Reply 5 of 35
    stompystompy Posts: 317member
    Trey Gowdy's 5 minutes were an embarrassment -- for himself and S.C.
    edited March 2016 baconstangtdknoxlatifbp
  • Reply 6 of 35
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 577member
    Interesting developments. 
    I do think it was a good suggestion that Apple brings some legislative options to the table. 
    Lobbyists do it all the time, so much so that legislators expect it. 
    baconstangkevin kee
  • Reply 7 of 35
    I think the best solution is to wait. First off, in the physcal world, there are laws on the books that legalized registered locksmiths in the state of California to be able to make car keys without permission from the manufacturer.

    Federal legislation for encryption keys could be based on car key legislation that's already used in California and Silicon Valley. Legislators and Congress just needs to issue an inquiry to the California Locksmiths Associations/Unions about the laws of cutting (and programming) car keys.

    Why wait? Well, wuite possibly at the speed in which technology progresses (and also because Apple wants its damned iPhone to replace everything you can carry) iPhones may also have the ability to unlock cars. Perhaps some already do. Once challenged by the Locksmith Union, Apple will be obligated to make iPhone keys programmable.

    Then, the way I see it, support of existing California law makes complete sense. Even BMW (or maybe Mercedes) didn't want to comply so The California Locksmith Association/Union issued a per-diem fine for each day it's not accomplished. Maybe that's what Apple needs too. Let's say $20,000 per day Apple is not compliant. For a company the size of Apple, this is a great way to tell Investors why they missed their numbers.

    Either way, The State of California trusts registered locksmiths located on a street corner with the ability to make keys for $50,000 or $100,000 vehicles. Most likely, California Legislators can do something similar with a phone valued around $400. So let's seriously not loose our heads here..!

    Digital products like those Apple sells can always be re-issued. But physical cars.. Well, that's why they created a series of laws regarding "Grand Theft Auto".

    I think it's probably more simple than it needs to be. Basically, Apple wants to take away functionality it provided for decades. Home users could even buy tools to access data. So today, so if a customer forgets a code they may have to buy a new iPhone or be inconveniced in other ways. After all, iPhone sales have been soft in the US, and anything Apple can do to get its customers to upgrade will help sales..

    But either way, the problem everyone is worried about fixes itself within a few years and Tim Cook scrapes the bottom of the barrel of ideas again.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 8 of 35
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,061member

    I think it's probably more simple than it needs to be. Basically, Apple wants to take away functionality it provided for decades. Home users could even buy tools to access data. So today, so if a customer forgets a code they may have to buy a new iPhone or be inconveniced in other ways. After all, iPhone sales have been soft in the US, and anything Apple can do to get its customers to upgrade will help sales..

    But either way, the problem everyone is worried about fixes itself within a few years and Tim Cook scrapes the bottom of the barrel of ideas again.

    One of the stupidest fucking things I've read in my life, and that's saying a lot. 

    Apple sold by far more phones this year than any other time in it's history, and you're stating that because of "soft" sales, Apple wants to increase sales by.. locking people out of their phones? It must take quite a level of stupidity to even come up with such an insanely moronic conspiracy theory, and suggest it as a serious thing. I have yet to hear of or meet a single person in my life that bought a new iPhone cause they couldn't get into theirs. But apparently, this is what Apple is banking on to pad sales of a device that sells more than 10,000,000 units in a single weekend? What "functionality" is Apple taking away? You know noone is even forcing you to use a passcode, right? Encryption now amounts to removing functionality? What "bottom of the barrel" ideas is Cook scraping? The fact that Apple doesn't want to create backdoors into iOS or compromise privacy? This has been something deeply ingrained in Apple for a long time, not something Cook just pulled out of his ass.
    edited March 2016 malcolmtuckersuddenly newtonnasseraebaconstangkevin keelatifbpanantksundaramduervobadmonk
  • Reply 9 of 35
    Does the government need to have potential access to everything in our lives?

    Can't they just live with what they already have, as they admit that they have all the contacts and what they want is the actual conversations.  
    So if they get access to the iPhones (this is not really about a single case as Comey stated in today's testimony), a smart terrorist will find another way to communicate that is opaque to the FBI and other initial agencies.

    It just seems that we the people should have some part of our lives that cannot be seen by others.
  • Reply 10 of 35
    eep357eep357 Posts: 11member
    The State of California trusts registered locksmiths located on a street corner with the ability to make keys for $50,000 or $100,000 vehicles. Most likely, California Legislators can do something similar with a phone valued around $400.
    You don't get it. Nobody cares about the $400 phone and it's use/function as such. The data stored on a phone could be worth more than all the BMWs and Mercedes in California combined. There is literarily no limit to the potential value of information. Nor is there any threshold to the amount of personal, social and financial damage that can be caused to people, businesses and organizations by theft and/or release of such information. While the data on my own phone may be mostly worthless, the data belonging to a Sony executive, FBI director, or high profile political candidate could be priceless.
    baconstangpalomine
  • Reply 11 of 35
    tmay said:
    I have to state how happy I am that the swarms of trolls had a die off.

    I'm guessing trolls hatch, find a website, troll a few threads, and expire in their basements from the constant snacking. I'm not sure how they reproduce.

    Gnats probably live longer. These aren't the traditional Tolls like in the film Trollhunter.
    What? Where did they die off? Did I miss something?
  • Reply 12 of 35
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    "We see ourselves as being in an arms race with criminals, cyber terrorists and hackers," Sewell said, adding that Apple is trying to create a safe and secure environment for its customers in spite of such threats.
    Since World War II, the US government has considered strong encryption software to be as dangerous as a "munition."
    Same as a weapon.  Because it makes spying on the world a whole lot harder.
    Fortunately for American citizens, the United States Constitution says this:

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Gun nuts claim that this gives them the right to buy assault rifles.
    Rational people can claim that it gives us the right to use strongly encrypted iPhones.
    Strong encryption is a "munition," and we have a right to bear arms (against an overly oppressive government.)
  • Reply 13 of 35
    I'm not sure I understand. Don't you know that the digital world emulates the physical world, and not the other way around?

    Don't worry about the sales, cheer up. They'll eventually pick up again when customers need more powerful and stronger processors to decrypt data in real-time. Encrypting file systems can add overhead unless it's done in an ASIC. Apple will create a new model for you to sell. :)
    slurpy said:

    One of the stupidest fucking things I've read in my life, and that's saying a lot. 

    Apple sold by far more phones this year than any other time in it's history, and you're stating that because of "soft" sales, Apple wants to increase sales by.. locking people out of their phones? It must take quite a level of stupidity to even come up with such an insanely moronic scenario, and suggest it as a serious thing. What "bottom of the barrel" ideas is Cook scraping? The fact that Apple doesn't want to create backdoors into iOS or compromise privacy? This has been something deeply ingrained in Apple for a long time, not something Cook just pulled out of his ass.

    Well done, moron. Unfortunate that your rabid hatred of Apple and Cook has turned your brain into a toxic sludge. 
  • Reply 14 of 35
    yeah. I know a lot of millennials that have very high intangible value to data on their iPhone.

    But what is an unlocked iPhone really worth in the general marketplace? Does it still have an active AppleCare Extended Warranty on it? Truthfully, it's perhaps 10-20% less than Apple is selling it in their stores..? Maybe a little less...?

    I guess I'm a bit concerned about who buys an iPhone... or even an iPod with someone else's data on it..? Black market smugglers maybe?

    eep357 said:
    The State of California trusts registered locksmiths located on a street corner with the ability to make keys for $50,000 or $100,000 vehicles. Most likely, California Legislators can do something similar with a phone valued around $400.
    You don't get it. Nobody cares about the $400 phone and it's use/function as such. The data stored on a phone could be worth more than all the BMWs and Mercedes in California combined. There is literarily no limit to the potential value of information. Nor is there any threshold to the amount of personal, social and financial damage that can be caused to people, businesses and organizations by theft and/or release of such information. While the data on my own phone may be mostly worthless, the data belonging to a Sony executive, FBI director, or high profile political candidate could be priceless.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 15 of 35
    I completely understand Apple's view of this...but let's not loss sight about why the FBI wants access to these phones....the couple in California committed an act of terrorism. Somehow this has become about the right to privacy...these people and therefore anyone who murders innocent people lost their rights.  Now having said this do I believe the FBI should have ability to access information on these phones...YES!  Do I believe Apple should give it to them...yes and no.  They should find a way to help the FBI but no they are not responsible to give the FBI a backdoor, this is the place of the FBI to find a way.  As to all the wing nuts who claim this is gonna give the FBI the power to collect information on anyone and everyone...give it a rest!  Most of you aren't worth the effort to have your paranoid, pathetic lives examined by the FBI, they have bigger fish to fry...and of course had the people who massacred all these people killed one of yours you'd be pissed at the FBI for not getting to the bottom of this matter and pissed at Apple for not doing all it could to help!!

    malcolmtucker
  • Reply 16 of 35
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,791member
    I think the best solution is to wait. First off, in the physcal world, there are laws on the books that legalized registered locksmiths in the state of California to be able to make car keys without permission from the manufacturer.

    Federal legislation for encryption keys could be based on car key legislation that's already used in California and Silicon Valley. Legislators and Congress just needs to issue an inquiry to the California Locksmiths Associations/Unions about the laws of cutting (and programming) car keys.

    Why wait? Well, wuite possibly at the speed in which technology progresses (and also because Apple wants its damned iPhone to replace everything you can carry) iPhones may also have the ability to unlock cars. Perhaps some already do. Once challenged by the Locksmith Union, Apple will be obligated to make iPhone keys programmable.

    Then, the way I see it, support of existing California law makes complete sense. Even BMW (or maybe Mercedes) didn't want to comply so The California Locksmith Association/Union issued a per-diem fine for each day it's not accomplished. Maybe that's what Apple needs too. Let's say $20,000 per day Apple is not compliant. For a company the size of Apple, this is a great way to tell Investors why they missed their numbers.

    Either way, The State of California trusts registered locksmiths located on a street corner with the ability to make keys for $50,000 or $100,000 vehicles. Most likely, California Legislators can do something similar with a phone valued around $400. So let's seriously not loose our heads here..!

    Digital products like those Apple sells can always be re-issued. But physical cars.. Well, that's why they created a series of laws regarding "Grand Theft Auto".

    I think it's probably more simple than it needs to be. Basically, Apple wants to take away functionality it provided for decades. Home users could even buy tools to access data. So today, so if a customer forgets a code they may have to buy a new iPhone or be inconveniced in other ways. After all, iPhone sales have been soft in the US, and anything Apple can do to get its customers to upgrade will help sales..

    But either way, the problem everyone is worried about fixes itself within a few years and Tim Cook scrapes the bottom of the barrel of ideas again.

    Completely biased and ignorant rant. Nothing you say makes any sense or is relevant to the issue.

    First of all, you can simply break the window of a car if you need to into it - you do not need a key. That issue had nothing to do with law enforcement. The point of allowing locksmiths the ability to make new keys was so that the car companies couldn't rape their customers by requiring them to HAVE to go to the dealers or manufacturer's for over-priced keys.

    Furthermore, the encryption and security features do not force users to buy new phones. If the user CHOOSES THE OPTION, it simply erases all the data. The phone can still be reset and used. Again this is a feature the user HAS TO CHOOSE TO SET UP. If you're a complete idiot and don't want to be inconvenienced when you forget your passcode, then don't set a passcode. Apple doesn't care if you do or don't, but what they do care about is that if you consider your data to be private and want to protect yourself, their device will give you that OPTION.

    And finally, yes Apple is FORCING their users to replace everything they carry with an iPhone. It's not like they give you a choice or something.
    steveh
  • Reply 17 of 35
    Yeah your absolutely correct.   The other thing to remember is that your iPhone collects all kinds of data including GPS data, location data, even pictures (with metadata) that could prove someone more likely was NOT at the scene of a crime.  But these days, when people attend events/parties, they post selfies on Facebook and the FBI already has information to all of that data, and it can be trangulated off of cell networks too.

    That data doesn't incriminate you, it clears your name.  As everyone gets smartphones, only criminals will have flip phones and stuff.  In fact, isn't what the terrorists were using to communicate anyway..?


    PassionsGate said:
    I completely understand Apple's view of this...but let's not loss sight about why the FBI wants access to these phones....the couple in California committed an act of terrorism. Somehow this has become about the right to privacy...these people and therefore anyone who murders innocent people lost their rights.  Now having said this do I believe the FBI should have ability to access information on these phones...YES!  Do I believe Apple should give it to them...yes and no.  They should find a way to help the FBI but no they are not responsible to give the FBI a backdoor, this is the place of the FBI to find a way.  As to all the wing nuts who claim this is gonna give the FBI the power to collect information on anyone and everyone...give it a rest!  Most of you aren't worth the effort to have your paranoid, pathetic lives examined by the FBI, they have bigger fish to fry...and of course had the people who massacred all these people killed one of yours you'd be pissed at the FBI for not getting to the bottom of this matter and pissed at Apple for not doing all it could to help!!

  • Reply 18 of 35
    No I think it's well thought-out.   Many upper-range vehicles have immobilizers that need to be reprogrammed when you rightfully acquire a new key. 

    The two are fairly similar.  If you don't know the key or passcode to an iPhone, you can't use it.  Similar to how a car immobilizer works.  Thankfully, the California Congress was smart enough to pass a law to force car manufacturers to reprogram immobilizers so a car will run when a locksmith issues a new key.


    mjtomlin said:
    Completely biased and ignorant rant. Nothing you say makes any sense or is relevant to the issue.

    First of all, you can simply break the window of a car if you need to into it - you do not need a key. That issue had nothing to do with law enforcement. The point of allowing locksmiths the ability to make new keys was so that the car companies couldn't rape their customers by requiring them to HAVE to go to the dealers or manufacturer's for over-priced keys.

    Furthermore, the encryption and security features do not force users to buy new phones. If the user CHOOSES THE OPTION, it simply erases all the data. The phone can still be reset and used. Again this is a feature the user HAS TO CHOOSE TO SET UP. If you're a complete idiot and don't want to be inconvenienced when you forget your passcode, then don't set a passcode. Apple doesn't care if you do or don't, but what they do care about is that if you consider your data to be private and want to protect yourself, their device will give you that OPTION.

    And finally, yes Apple is FORCING their users to replace everything they carry with an iPhone. It's not like they give you a choice or something.

  • Reply 19 of 35
    MGMAMGMA Posts: 1member
    It is amazing to me that after Edward Snowden showed what the government was doing.... That us as US citizens would support. 

    Unfortunately  very seriously unfortunately; the US or any government cannot be trusted with such power. 

    Mind boggling.... 
    baconstangtdknox
  • Reply 20 of 35
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,559member
    I completely understand Apple's view of this...but let's not loss sight about why the FBI wants access to these phones....the couple in California committed an act of terrorism. Somehow this has become about the right to privacy...these people and therefore anyone who murders innocent people lost their rights.  Now having said this do I believe the FBI should have ability to access information on these phones...YES!  Do I believe Apple should give it to them...yes and no.  They should find a way to help the FBI but no they are not responsible to give the FBI a backdoor, this is the place of the FBI to find a way.  As to all the wing nuts who claim this is gonna give the FBI the power to collect information on anyone and everyone...give it a rest!  Most of you aren't worth the effort to have your paranoid, pathetic lives examined by the FBI, they have bigger fish to fry...and of course had the people who massacred all these people killed one of yours you'd be pissed at the FBI for not getting to the bottom of this matter and pissed at Apple for not doing all it could to help!!

    Today it's terrorism. Tomorrow it's drug dealers. Next week it'll be protestors. Next month it'll be traffic violators. 
    baconstangtdknoxsteveh
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