Encryption Backdoor is A Slippery Slope for Apple

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, February 19, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Apple Statement on Security
As early as 2014, Apple announced to everyone that its newest system - the iOS 8 - would not permit the company to access data in an iPhone.

"Unlike our competitors," reads Apple’s policy, "Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [private] data." It specifically claimed to not even be able to access private data because "it's not technically feasible for [Apple] to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

In doing so, Apple set itself on a collision course with law enforcement. And a few days ago, that is what happened after a federal judge ordered Apple to do just that.

Creating this kind of backdoor to the iPhone for the federal government to access encrypted data would create "chilling" implications that could undermine the privacy of all users, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In a letter posted online, Cook responded to a federal order asking for Apple to help the FBI crack into an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino, California, attackers. It's just the latest development in the ongoing encryption debate between Silicon Valley and the government.

"We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," Cook wrote. "But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."

Cook said the FBI is essentially asking Apple to build a new operating system that could be installed on an iPhone recovered from an investigation. Such software does not exist today but Cook said if it did, there would be no way to guarantee it would only be used for investigations, putting the privacy of millions of Americans at risk.

"The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by 'brute force' trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer," Cook wrote.

The implications of this case are serious for the Internet of Things. Convincing the public to trust that their personal data will not be shared or subject to a subpoena in everything from a criminal court to divorce proceedings, is a big obstacle to full adoption of new technologies.

Actual big brothers are helpful and make life better. Technological Big Brothers are not. Whether companies that use voice commands (and hence are likely capable of recording), track health, location and home practices can assure complete security to customers could mean the difference between success or failure of these products even before they get going. For the Internet of Things to succeed and become truly mass market, the consumer must feel that the core underpinnings of data and security remain in their favor, not the government.

See Apple's complete statement.


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