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Apple says ‘no’ to FBI’s backdoor request

Apple says ‘no’ to FBI’s backdoor request
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Apple recently released an open letter to all its customers about an incredibly sensitive topic that most of the tech users today would deem too important to compromise: data security.

The open letter is the tech company’s response to the order issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which compels Apple to assist in accessing data from a passcode-locked iPhone owned by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shooting incident in December last year.

Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ruled that Apple must provide “reasonable technical assistance,” which includes disabling the phone’s auto-erase function and help investigators to submit passcode guesses electronically.

Given its commitment to its users’ privacy and security, Apple expressed its opposition against the court ruling in the form of a customer letter posted on its website. Signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the letter said that the order “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

Cook said that they “have no sympathy for terrosists,” and when the FBI asked for help in the days following the San Bernardino attack, Apple worked hard to support the government’s effort to solve the crime. Cook also mentioned that the company had provided the data in their possession requested by the FBI and made its engineers available to advise the agency.

“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,” stated Cook. “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,” the Apple chief executive noted. “In the wrong hands, this software—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Further, Cook expressed strongly in the open letter the company’s fear that acquiescing to the order would set a dangerous precedent. “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.”

At the end of the letter, Cook said that while FBI’s intentions are good, forcing Apple to create a backdoor into its otherwise heavily protected products would be wrong. “And ultimately,” he stressed, “we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

You can read Apple’s full customer letter here.

Words John Sosmeña

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