Apple vs The FBI

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    I’m not a fan of Apple. But I do have an iPhone and an iPod. I appreciate the effort they have put forth to keep their devices secure.

    However, I don’t agree with their stance on this. The information on the iPhone of the terrorist should be recovered. The fact Apple claims this will open a Pandora’s Box is garbage.


    I’m torn on it.

    Good encryption should present equally to everyone. Soon, it may actually do that, given the potential quantum techniques appear to hold.

    On current Apple phones, the security is very good. A signed and encrypted bit of code runs on a small, in chip, management unit. Intel has done the same, though it has gone largely unused.

    That has not been reverse engineered, and I follow those activities as a matter of personal interest. Mostly, I follow them to understand what hardware I actually own, and avoid devices that have that level of capability being enabled.

    A specialized tool is very likely required for those devices, and publishing it in any form does, in fact, render the encryption weaker for everyone. It takes very little for the people capable of exploiting that information to do so.

    So, the question there is simple. Do we allow that at all? I think the answer is unavoidable as its out there now, meaning bad people as well as goid people can operate on essentially uncrackable devices today.

    This is a public matter, and the discussion needs to play out. I’m personally inclined to say yes, due to the extreme difficulty and forced trust people would experience if we attempt to say no, as the UK is currently doing.

    I suspect that exercise will go badly for them, and I do expect we will learn what we need to from all of that.

    Now, this particular phone isn’t of the same class of device. I believe the government could extract the data. Others out there have demonstrated the skills that appear to be necessary, though in all cases, doing that won’t come cheap.

    So why don’t they just do that?

    IMHO, that is a great question, and it’s likely something the NSA would prefer not to reveal at this time.

    I feel, if they can, they should, and prople can act on a good understanding of what is possible and what is not. Setting crime aside, understanding of this kind is what Snowden was getting at with the information he shared.

    Politics is a contact sport and there can be grave consequences for people, and it’s important they understand their risks for real.

    Right now, Apple has made it clear they themselves have not done the work needed to access the phone, and on their current phones, have done the work to insure the encryption works for anyone, including Apple.

    That is the question again. If we say no to that being a reality, and we say that there must be a back door, or key, who mandates that for people unwilling to comply?

    You see, that back door could be used to modify the phone to remove that back door, and it would be done by someone other than Apple, and then where are we?

    Not so easy to resolve.

    The net impact of that may well be worse than just understanding that good encryption works for everyone. Others, seeking to exploit that fact would be as limited as anyone is.

    I am inclined to support Apple in this. It’s not just about the crime and potential evidence in this case. They are right about that.

    It is about the appropriate encryption policy and it’s much broader implications.

    Personally, I need to see this play out. I am unsure what is best, or right, etc… I am also unsure of the government claim to need help on this too. It’s entirely plausible they can get into that phone.

    If they can, I think they should, and the only way to even have a chance of knowing is to put them into a position where they either find a way to handle the case without the data on the phone, or reveal that they can, in fact, obtain the data on the phone.

    If they can, they should too. I have no problem with that aspect of law enforcement.

    I do have a problem with being unclear on what law enforcement can and cannot do, both technically and legally.

    This matter touches on both of those, and again, I want it to play out to see just what we may learn, and more importantly, what the people think about it and how that may impact policy in the future.

    Remember, equal opportunity encryption is coming. Physics will regulate that. Should it? How do we actually say “no?”

    I want us to get the bad guys. I also want us to be clear on how we get those bad guys too, not just believe in a ruse.


    If the FBI wants it opened up, then let them figure it out. Apple needs to protect their owners and subscribers. The government is famous for the “opps” statements. Even though I do not have an I-Phone, I back Apple and Google on this. We do not live in North Korea or Russia. People need to have their material protected.


    “We do not live in North Korea or Russia. People need to have their material protected.”

    People that commit murder lose that right to have their material protected.


    My views on this issue have changed; I am now much more concerned about the prying eyes of other everyday people and about companies trying to entice me to part with my money than I am about the government.

    Personal information leaked on social media and message forums will affect how others see me. It could cause embarrassment. It could affect future career prospects. At worst, it could advertise a potential vulnerability. For instance a few years ago, I posted a Central American travelogue to this forum. At the time, I did not realize that in doing so, I was sending out the message, “Hey! I’m not home!” Geotagged images on social media can do the same thing.

    Government agencies, on the other hand, don’t have a motivation to sort through the mundane details of my personal life. They already have my demographic data (census/IRS), they know how much money I make and how much I have paid in taxes, and they know what real estate I own.


    “If the FBI wants it opened up, then let them figure it out.”

    If I understand correctly, the data on the phone will “self destruct” if the improper password is used more than “x” times.


    There are other ways to get at that phone data.


    I believe that is what the FBI is doing now! 🙂


    Sure, the people that commit murder should lose their rights, but the rest of the population? If Apple has to do what the FBI says, then what about the rest of the I-Phone owners? They have paid plenty for their device and expect the security. Just because our government decides they want something, do we always have to give in? What about our freedom? Let the FBI figure it out themselves. If they can’t, too bad. They can hire brains to decode things. Money talks. Also the bottom line is, what if the security is broken and there are always leaks, especially if someone can make money, then Apple may lose a lot of sales in the future. Who wants to spend that much for a phone just to have it broken. Apple stand your ground. There are many of us with you.


    It’s all about more than just this phone, and they have the contacts from the service provider records already. Plenty of people to talk to.

    Uncle Sam wants to compel engineering efforts against strong encryption.

    I was correct in that this phone is not the full strength. Current devices would not be unlocked by this request.

    Andy Brown

    The FBI has already said it has a half dozen iPhones it wants to gain access to, so it’s not just about this one phone. If they prevail in court on this one request, there would be no preventing them to compel Apple to build a set of master keys to every iPhone model.

    Ever since iOS 8, almost all data is encrypted on an iPhone. So there really are no other methods to recover the data as suggested by an earlier post. You have to gain access through the PIN and even that becomes complicated when you consider it would take years to manually enter all the PIN combinations even if the erasure after 10 failed attempts procedure was defeated.

    Here’s a more technical assessment of what I’m saying:

    Apple can comply with the FBI court order

    Assuming most of that information in the linked blog to be accurate, it would be logical to assume that Apple could do this, but their technical prowess is not the issue. The issue is whether the government can compel them to create a solution that would compromise what has taken them millions of dollars and years to create, putting not only Apple’s existence on the line, but the security of iPhone users around the world.

    Apple wrote “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.”

    I don’t believe that the FBI has the authority they seek and I believe Apple is correct in refusing to comply.

    I was talking to my little brother about this. He worked many years on the encryption team at General Instrument (Videocypher) and has a patented encryption algorithm to his credit. You will be amused by what he told me. He said the odds are pretty good that the NSA may already have the ability to do what the FBI wants, but probably told the FBI ‘you guys are on your own. We won’t share it with you.’ This only underscores Apple’s position. If the FBI wants to break the phone, it is in their possession. Go for it. But don’t expect Apple to compromise years of work and tens of millions of iPhone users.

    For those of you that have only read the coverage of this story but haven’t read the complete FBI request, read the blog (first link) and the full Apple response (second link).

    Apple has five business days (four at this point) to file an official opposition. I’m waiting to read that but their letter to its customers is pretty clear, they will not be easily compelled to hack their own work and set a dangerous precedent for the future security of all iPhone users. I agree with them (Apple). This is government overreach of the most dangerous type.

    Apple says “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.”


    I agree with your brother. The NSA may not be able or finished understanding current phones, but they have had ample time to decap and exploit the older ones.

    And some of those skills are out there, in public too. The NSA will have access to and funding for much better equipment, of course. There are groups publishing chip level analysis, probing and exploitation today.

    Did you guys see McAfee? Says his group will do it, or eat a shoe!

    Frankly, I am fine with the government funding a group to do this. We would know, and everyone has options, including Apple. I won’t like that much, but I also understand it, and it’s a political thing we can debate, etc…

    Having Apple be forced to do that work isn’t OK with me at all. They aren’t in that business, nor should they be.

    Encryption that is strong for everyone is an important tech and society question.

    This case is an attempt to avoid that question entirely, and make tech companies do the dirty work. And you know the moment Apple does, all the usual oppressive regimes will come calling, and that is not good for anyone. Bet it won’t take a week.

    Some of them do and will make different choices. Google and Microsoft are both curiously silent. Google has much more open devices. I think they made their choice. Microsoft has gotten ugly about all of this, does not make open stuff, and God only knows what Win 10 actually does. They made their choice too.

    It’s entirely fair for Apple to make their choice too.

    What bothers me about this one the most is they already have the contact info. Tons of leads for them, and just a few years ago, that is all they would have anyway, and the work would get done anyway.

    Personal device encryption is something I believe should exist. Once one goes on the network, all bets are off, and that is a pretty fair playing field for all parties, IMHO.

    There are valid reasons for that encryption, just as there are nefarious ones. I also do not see how we can simply say no to all of it. Valid uses would be compromised, yet nefarious ones would continue.


    I just don’t buy the slippery slope arguments being but forth on this situation. And, does anyone here really think absolute security exists?

    As a casual observer, it feels like Apple’s position is Company > Country. Not very good PR if you ask me.


    It’s not about that.

    Again, I believe the NSA may have the tech to crack this now. If they dont, you can bet they are working on it.

    And that is just fine.

    Compelling Apple to do work that runs in conflict with so much is not OK in my book. The arguments centering on establishing legal precdient (sp?) are all valid and based on other information and attempts to get this authority.

    Doing this kind of thing needs to be expensive too. That hasn’t been discussed, and maybe it should.

    I don’t think anyone is seriously questioning foreign governments anticipated response to this either. Again, bet it won’t take a week.

    The question of the government acting to decrypt the phone isn’t really being questioned either. They get to do that, and arguably should.

    Let them do it then.

    Forcing Apple to do it is the question, and I oppose that.


    Justice Department Calls Apple’s Refusal to Unlock iPhone ‘Marketing Strategy’

    The Justice Department, frustrated by its inability to unlock the iPhone of one of the attackers in the San Bernardino killings, demanded on Friday that a judge immediately order Apple to give it the technical tools to get inside the phone.

    Apple’s refusal “appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy” rather than a legal rationale, prosecutors said in a court filing that further escalated the confrontation between the Obama administration and Apple.

    “This is not the end of privacy,” the Justice Department declared, a mocking reference to Apple’s rationale for contesting the court order prosecutors obtained from a judge directing Apple to help them break into the phone.

    -Like I said, Company > Country.

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