Apple is fighting the FBI





  • A Message to Our Customers

    The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

    This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
    The Need for Encryption

    Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

    All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

    Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

    For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.
    The San Bernardino Case

    We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

    When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

    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. 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.

    Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

    The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
    The Threat to Data Security

    Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

    In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

    The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

    The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

    We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.
    A Dangerous Precedent

    Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

    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.

    The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. 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. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

    Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

    We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

    While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

    Tim Cook



  • TL/DR The FBI is requesting a dangerous backdoor in the iPhone.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

    Read: The people that we need to be protect from are the FBI, they are the ones putting our freedom and liberty at risk. The fifth column, so to speak.



  • The All Writs Act only authorizes a federal court. The FBI attempting to use it appears to be an attempt to openly inform the US public that the FBI is now seeing itself as both the executor AND the creator of laws. This looks like a fundamental subjugation of the US legal system. It would mean that the police have more authority than the law.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    TL/DR The FBI is requesting a dangerous backdoor in the iPhone.

    Other governments are doing the same / similar things, aren't they? I'd be surprised if the answer is no.



  • @dafyre said:

    Other governments are doing the same / similar things, aren't they? I'd be surprised if the answer is no.

    This isn't a government doing it. The FBI is an agency. The government can do this through the courts, the FBI is going around the courts. This is very different from a government requesting it. This is open sedition.



  • Not that it is acceptable for any free society to have a government that would request this and, of course, I don't believe any free society has one that would. If your government acts like this, it no longer sees itself in a role of protecting its citizens but in a position of owning them.



  • @dafyre said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    TL/DR The FBI is requesting a dangerous backdoor in the iPhone.

    Other governments are doing the same / similar things, aren't they? I'd be surprised if the answer is no.

    Other governments don't have our constitution.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    Not that it is acceptable for any free society to have a government that would request this and, of course, I don't believe any free society has one that would. If your government acts like this, it no longer sees itself in a role of protecting its citizens but in a position of owning them.

    What is your stance of the UK? They are moving toward this too, if they don't already have it.



  • Good for Apple! Way to stand up for what is right. This is a big win for your users. Because right now, I am wondering if the FBI asked Google to do the same thing.



  • @Dashrender said:

    Other governments don't have our constitution.

    I think you are implying something but I don't know what it is.



  • @Dashrender said:

    What is your stance of the UK? They are moving toward this too, if they don't already have it.

    UK is in terrible shape. They will follow the US into total disaster. The spying five are all less than free and have citizenry that has never taken freedom very seriously. Societies use the word "free" a lot when they want to hide the fact that they aren't very free.



  • @IRJ said:

    I am wondering if the FBI asked Google to do the same thing.

    I don't think that they can, because the phone makers would just remove the back door. Only the OEM phone maker can be coerced to do this. Making Apple unique in the US.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @Dashrender said:

    Other governments don't have our constitution.

    I think you are implying something but I don't know what it is.

    @dafyre asked if other governments are doing the same / similar things - and of course they are, but their citizens aren't protected from these things by something like our constitution.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @IRJ said:

    I am wondering if the FBI asked Google to do the same thing.

    I don't think that they can, because the phone makers would just remove the back door. Only the OEM phone maker can be coerced to do this. Making Apple unique in the US.

    Samsung and HTC would cover a big percentage of Android phones. The FBI may be talking to them.



  • @IRJ said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @IRJ said:

    I am wondering if the FBI asked Google to do the same thing.

    I don't think that they can, because the phone makers would just remove the back door. Only the OEM phone maker can be coerced to do this. Making Apple unique in the US.

    Samsung and HTC would cover a big percentage of Android phones. The FBI may be talking to them.

    But as non US companies, I'm not sure what kind of control the FBI can exert on them?



  • @Dashrender said:

    @dafyre asked if other governments are doing the same / similar things - and of course they are, but their citizens aren't protected from these things by something like our constitution.

    In what way is the US protected by the constitution in this case and why do you feel that it is stronger in protecting its citizens than other country's constitutions? The US constitutions famously does not protect a lot of things and is pretty weak compared to most free countries. And unlike the EU, lacks a secondary shield from a higher level.

    What aspect of the constitution applies here? The issue is the dissolvement of government oversight. Constitution didn't protect us from the Patriot Act. Nor the Alien and Sedition Acts. It has no power here if the FBI dissolves the court system.



  • @Dashrender said:

    But as non US companies, I'm not sure what kind of control the FBI can exert on them?

    A lot. They can threaten, extort, block trade, scare their people, etc.



  • @IRJ said:

    Samsung and HTC would cover a big percentage of Android phones. The FBI may be talking to them.

    I think there is no question there.



  • I agree it's great that Apple is openly reporting what is being asked of them by the FBI, and that it's horrible what the FBI is even asking.

    I don't understand how this in anyway would actually assist them in anyway that is measurable versus the number of people who would be monitored simply because they have a Smartphone.

    The FBI is stepping far outside of their reach, which also means that they should never use an Apple iPhone (or android or Windows Mobile) device ever if they want their communications to be secure.

    They're effectively asking for a hole in the basic security of the devices that everyone is using today. Apply rightfully so is telling the FBI to piss off, because the request is insane.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    I don't understand how this in anyway would actually assist them in anyway that is measurable versus the number of people who would be monitored simply because they have a Smartphone.

    We don't know what their goals are. It has some major effects, just not ones in the interest of Americans. But there are many pressures that could get an agency like the FBI to have interests that do not align with the people (or the law, or the government.)



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    The FBI is stepping far outside of their reach, which also means that they should never use an Apple iPhone (or android or Windows Mobile) device ever if they want their communications to be secure.

    This isn't quite correct. The FBI could still continue to use those devices, they would just need to install additional software on top of iOS that gave them the security they need. Being who they are, they would be more willing to deal with the extra complexities of this setup than normal citizens would.



  • We can be sure this would never leak out of the FBI's poorly secured computer networks.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    TL/DR The FBI is requesting a dangerous backdoor in the iPhone.

    But not so they can remote into billy bob's phone, it's so they can help in the investigation they're looking into etc of the murders? Strict protocol will have to be adhered to, in order to perform it, but if it can help save Thousands of lives, is it not worth it?

    Obviously It would be hell if it were widespread...but in this individual case (A mass murdered that killed innocent children before being gunned down) is it not worth allowing access to potentially find the sites he got help from/acquaintances that might be planning similar attacks?



  • Nothing with any branch of governmental agency is a 'one time" thing. If they force Apple to do this then it will be used to spy and get what they want in any and all things. We already know that they have spied on the US population for no apparent reason other than they wanted to.



  • @NattNatt said:

    Strict protocol will have to be adhered to, in order to perform it, but if it can help save Thousands of lives, is it not worth it?

    Absolutely not. There are so many problems with this...

    • Strict protocol was skipped to get to this point, that's out of the question.
    • FBI does not follow protocol at all, you can't expect this from that organization.
    • FBI has no track record of saving lives, the idea that there are lives to save is purely made up.
    • FBI doing things like this is used to empower terrible things like terrorist groups. You see savings lives, I see killing people.
    • Any thing like this can never be done for the purpose of safety, that's a myth. What it is is an attempt to subvert the legal process and cripple the people's power, to build a state where people are not free.


  • The problem with backdoors is that they are backdoors for everyone. Not only would the FBI and other government agencies have access to this but anyone with the knowledge/ability to access it would also have this access.

    Although I doubt anyone wants the FBI circumventing the courts to get access to these phones, or to do so in a manner that is secret or hidden.



  • @Minion-Queen said:

    Nothing with any branch of governmental agency is a 'one time" thing. If they force them to do this then it will be used to spy and get what they want in any and all things. We already know that they have spied on the US population for no apparent reason other than they wanted to.

    "for our benefit"

    It's encroaching on our liberty. For a long time if you went to www.google.cn (China's google) and you searched Tiananmen Square in the images it would be blurred out entirely. You can't let the the FBI, or government for that matter, control information in any capacity IMO.



  • @NattNatt said:

    Obviously It would be hell if it were widespread...but in this individual case (A mass murdered that killed innocent children before being gunned down) is it not worth allowing access to potentially find the sites he got help from/acquaintances that might be planning similar attacks?

    Sure, that one case. How do you make it work for "one case" and not others? By that logic, you could do anything. It's how it affects people broadly. And this one case wasn't thousands of people, it was a few. And there is no reason to believe that having no privacy would have helped the FBI stop it. That access to phone data is going to help the FBI is purely a theory. The FBI does not have a good technology track record, but their enemies do. Any reduction of security at the request of the FBI is actually handing that information to people much more nefarious....

    which begs the question, why would the FBI do this as they certainly know that. What ends are their seeking?


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