Following Tim Cook’s all-encompassing open letter that revealed the US Government’s request to create a backdoor for an iPhone, Apple has released a new FAQ that answers questions that followed the original open letter. Once again, Apple has reiterated its stance on being for encryption as well as dispelling doubts and concerns on its determined position on that very stance.
It’s among the biggest stories of 2016. Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the FBI has the world watching and paying close attention to the technology giant’s determined stance on opposing the US government in the latter’s request to build a software image to break the encryption of an Apple iPhone.
A quick run-through of the face-off sees the FBI holding possession of an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters but unable to gain access to the phone’s data after being unable to crack the passcode of the device. As a consequence, the FBI, via a US court order demanded Apple make a custom piece of its iOS software to circumvent the iPhone’s security measures. Apple, in its pro-encryption ideology, has publicly opposed the court order, stating that building a backdoor would be “dangerous” in the means to safeguarding the privacy of millions of Apple device users in the country.
Understandably, the stand-off makes for heated debate. The FBI wants to gain information from a terrorist’s phone to potentially discover information about the terrorist’s contacts which could lead to further intelligence gathering. Apple and its supporters see the consequence of an action wherein government is forcing a company to break the security of its own devices. It would set a dangerous precedent.
In adding to Tim Cook’s original open letter, Apple has released an FAQ today, directly addressing the questions that followed after Apple publicly vowed to fight the US government over the court order.
One of the most-asked questions about the Apple-FBI stand-off is why Apple couldn’t just build the software one time, to fix the one iPhone that the FBI is seeking to gain access to. In its response, Apple contends that the digital world is different to the physical one, wherein once a technique is created in the digital realm, it can be replicated over and over again, on a number of devices, even if the idea is to destroy it after a one-time usage.
Apple’s explanation read:
Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks.
Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals. As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyberattacks.
The answer ended with Apple reiterating its stance, in stating:
Again, we strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.
Another question asks if Apple has ever unlocked iPhones for law enforcement in the past.
To this, Apple flatly denies that it hasn’t unlocked iPhones in the past for law enforcement. However, it revealed that –following a lawful court order – the company has extracted data from an iPhone, on devices running iOS versions prior to iOS 8.
For the skeptics who claim that Apple’s hardened objection to the governmental request is a marketing strategy to enhance its brand, the answer was swift.
Absolutely not. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is and always has been about our customers. We feel strongly that if we were to do what the government has asked of us — to create a backdoor to our products — not only is it unlawful, but it puts the vast majority of good and law-abiding citizens, who rely on iPhone to protect their most personal and important data, at risk.
The entire FAQ makes for interesting insight into Apple’s unrelenting stance on encryption.
Featured image from Shutterstock.