Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple vs the FBI: Why is Apple so upset? Giving up our freedoms (Fourth Amendment), or keeping us safe?

Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.  It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.


February 16, 2016 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


Apple vs the FBI: Why is Apple so upset?

We take a closer look at Apple's clash with the FBI to see exactly what's got Tim Cook and co. so upset.

The ongoing fight between companies and authorities over encryption reached new heights this week as it was revealed that Apple has been asked by the FBI to essentially build a backdoor into iPhone software.

Apple CEO Tim Cook's open letter, published on the Apple website, lays out exactly what the firm has been ordered to do and calls for a public discussion on the matter of encryption.

But for many, especially those outside the tech community, this conversation can seem impenetrable, making a public discussion that much more difficult to foster.

It seems then, that we could all do with a bit of a refresher on the matter at hand, so as to prime ourselves for the impending discussion. Here's a rundown of the situation as it stands.

What exactly has Apple been ordered to do?

In December 2015, a married couple living in Redlands, California attacked a training event held by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. 14 people were killed and 22 were injured in the terrorist shooting.

Following the event, an FBI investigation turned up an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, one of the perpetrators. A US Federal judge then ordered Apple to provide investigators with access to the phone's encrypted data, which according to the court papers, the firm 'declined to provide voluntarily'.

The court filing specifically refers to Farook's iCloud account. Prosecutors say he seems to have disabled the iCloud data feature a month and a half before the shooting, leaving investigators unable to access evidence that only resides on the phone and has not been backed up to the cloud.

After the court order was issued, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted an open letter explaining the company's opposition to the ruling. In it, he describes the government's demands as follows:


One of these security features which the FBI wants disabled is one which deletes all the user data after a certain amount of failed passcode entries. Investigators risk losing all the information on Farook's phone if they continue to try to guess the passcode incorrectly, hence why they want that particular feature disabled.

If Apple is unable to disable the auto-erase function, the court order states that the firm should create software that enables them to do so.

Apple has been given five days to respond.

Why is this a big deal?

The debate over data encryption and when, or even if, authorities should have the right to order its removal, has been going for some time. Tensions have somewhat increased since the Edward Snowden revelations which exposed massive government surveillance in both the United States and UK.

Apple's latest run-in with the authorities therefore seems more salient than it would have even five or so years ago, especially as companies, including Apple, ramped up their security features in the wake of the Snowden leaks.

Read much more:

Palestinian incitement reared its ugly head again this week with a violent new animated video calling for the murder of Israelis making the rounds on social media....

Violent Palestinian Cartoon Glorifies Incitement, Killing of Jews [WATCH]

Palestinian incitement reared its ugly head again this week with a violent new animated video calling for the murder of Israelis making the rounds on social media. Whether stabbings, shootings, or car rammings, every method of murder is praised in this short but hate-filled cartoon, which is aimed at young viewers. Most of the attackers in the current wave of terror have been under the age of 25, and some have been as young as 12. 

The 50-second clip opens with a Palestinian man watching videos on his laptop when he sees images of the dead body of a female terrorist. The image likely refers to a recent incident in which a Palestinian woman was shot after she attempted to stab IDF soldiers in Hebron. 

With his anger properly incited, the man grabs up a knife and goes out to the street with intent to carry out terror attacks against Israelis, civilians and soldiers alike. As he walks, images of dead Palestinian “martyrs” flash on the walls, presumably to bolster his confidence and encourage him to continue what they started.

The video then becomes quite graphic, depicting the stabbing of IDF soldiers and car rammings, similar to the one carried out in Jerusalem in December which left nearly a dozen people injured. The video serves as a sort of how-to: terrorists are shown stabbing soldiers and civilians in the neck and other sensitive areas on the body.

At the very end of the cartoon, the terrorist is seen entering paradise, reaping his heavenly reward for his horrific actions. 

This video is only the latest in the onslaught of anti-Israel propaganda disseminated by Palestinian terrorists whose goal is to kill Israeli Jews. Only last week, a pro-Hamas music group released their own music video with calls to “Blow the roof off the bus,” referring to reinstating the method of suicide bombers who blow up Israeli buses, a type of attack common during the Second Intifada.