“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.”
That’s the message from Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook in an open letter to customers posted to the company website yesterday.
The letter is in response to a court ruling that Apple build a backdoor in order for them to access an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters behind the San Bernardino attack last December.
According to CBS News, the ruling is a victory for the US Justice Department in an on-going policy war that pits digital privacy against national security interests.
But Apple is having none of it.
Protecting the public from hackers and cybercriminals
Calling it a dangerous precedent, Cook says that while the company doesn’t take the order lightly, they must speak up about what it could mean for people.
“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.”
The backdoor technology doesn’t exist for a reason
Cook says the company has done everything it can up to this point to help the FBI with their investigation. but creating a new operating system that would circumvent security features creates a threat to data security for ALL of its customers.
“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.”
Encryption as a democratic right?
Calling it an overreach of the U.S. government, Apple says they are opposing the order and speaking up instead.
“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.”
Playing catch up with technology?
According to social media communications specialist, Dave Teixeira, what the courts are trying to do is play catch up with technology. He says because we now communicate almost exclusively with smartphones, law enforcement and the courts want a way to access information when its vital to a case or national security.
“Now when we lock all that information in there, it’s very difficult to access when there may be a legitimate reason to do so.”
But, say Teixeira, once you create a piece of code or a system, it can easily be distributed or shared.
“Snowden showed us this with millions upon millions of documents he took from the NSA. And this leaves Apple in this predicament.”
Encryption is only as strong as the key and how secure you keep it
Teixeira says the government has employed hackers in the past, sometimes called white-hat hackers, who help to break pornography rings, as one example.
“So perhaps what could happen is some of these white-hat hackers – these good guys – could create some kind of code. The problem is again, once that code is created, imagine that gets out into the general public – you have jealous ex-boyfriends or girlfriends using it to get into phones. And now your privacy is really at risk, and do you now trust anything that can be encrypted?”
Are our iPhones really that hard to hack now?
“Most people will have a four digit password or maybe a thumbprint on their iPhone, and believe it or not, that’s enough to keep people out.”
LISTEN to Dave Teixeira’s full take on the Apple predicament:
Strong Twitter reaction for both sides:
100% agree with #Apple - also, if our intelligence relies on weakening all of Americas security, then we've already lost the war on terror.— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) February 17, 2016
I hope Google and other tech companies step up and support #Apple with their privacy stance.— Troy Osinoff (@yo) February 17, 2016
I see importance of protecting our privacy but when you murder people you give up your rights & go to prison. #Apple needs to unlock phone!— Elizabeth Imus (@imuszero) February 17, 2016