Apple: FBI Wants Access To Many Different iPhones - InformationWeek
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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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TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2016 | 9:40:27 AM
Re: Democracy???
Steve, it's not slanted. I'm sure when you do it you'll match GOP guys. Be sure and take the detailed questions (more in each category) to get best match. Funniest thing was girl in office who is GOP but hates Trump. She matched 99% with Trump, I'm not letting her live that down. :-)  She did not take detail questions.

https://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2016 | 1:10:40 AM
Re: National Security Access
@stevew928, interesting points and questions...
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2016 | 12:31:23 AM
Re: Democracy???
No, I'm saying if that's how the results came out, it seems like it was designed / weighted towards a Democrat slant, especially if Hillary came out near Bernie. (for example, if regulating Wall Street, abortion, and fighting ISIS are equally rated, how does Hillary even rank? Hillary should only rank if you're looking for a pro-establishment leftist.)

But, also thise 'rate the issue' things don't really work because all the issues aren't equal. For example, while I'm not necessarily for building a wall between the US and Mexico, it's *WAY* more important to me that the candidate is pro-life... and not just playing that card because they've signed onto the Republican ticket, but really believes that and can articulate why. If they can't, they just don't belong in a leadership capacity.

Or, I think going after ISIS (the real ISIS, not the fake one created by the State Department) is probably a good thing, but not the way it's being done. So, how would I even answer such a simple question? How would I weight that?

Here's the thing, often these single issues are actually pretty critical things the people feel strongly about. My problem is that neither party really even comes close to matching my positions.

I think we're going to have to, somewhat, put the red/blue thing out of our minds a bit (though not give up on our ideals) and get the corrupt people out, starting with Congress, no matter what party they are. They might take some voting across lines, encouraging good people to run, or even running ourselves if we're up to it. A good, semi-competent person with some integrity can't do worse!
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2016 | 12:19:24 AM
Re: National Security Access
They've got the phone. It's actually owned by the shooters employer. They're welcome to have at it all they like.

What they can't do, is force Apple to create a tool to break the security mechanisms in general. That's unconstutional and VERY dangerous.

Is this still the USA we're talking about here? It seem the FBI thinks they are in North Korea or something.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 11:13:13 PM
Re: National Security Access
impactnow, you raise an incredible point. Is Apple's fight too little too late? The government's already got the capabilities to invade our digital and mobile space. I know the argument is that hackers will benefit from the iphone backdoor too, but as far as the government's concerned, I think there's more to this fight.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 10:22:03 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
@Ashu – That means the data is now going beyond US borders?
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 10:07:55 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
@Ashu – True FBI without the knowledge could easily screw thing up. I'm glad they didn't format the phone remotely. I expected much worse from them.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 10:02:55 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
@stevew928 – Yes I doubt they have the technical expertise to go in an out of a phone unnoticed hence they try doing things they don't know and fail.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 10:00:21 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
@ PedroGonzale – Yes they can and have the authority to ask for access for National security reasons. If not given access I'm sure they would make Apple's life miserable. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
2/29/2016 | 9:57:51 PM
Re: Did'nt John McAfee offer to do it for the FBI for Free?
FBI messed it up I don't think Apple should be helping them to unlock this phone. They could always take MacAfee's support on this. 
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
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