Friday, February 19, 2016

Apple's Case

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


  1. On Wednesday, Trump fired his own volley.

    The leading Republican presidential candidate appeared on "Fox And Friends" and expressed disbelief that Apple would argue with a court order, Politico reported.

    "Who do they think they are? They have to open it up," Trump said. "I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense."

    Trump's new slogan is that he's a "common-sense conservative." However, Cook apparently considers it common sense to preserve -- as he said in open letter on Apple's website -- "the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."

  2. It seems odd, even stupid, given the number of code breakers, hackers and supercomputers the US Intel community employs, that the FBI would openly approach Apple for assistance in this manner.

    This is the civil rights/constitutional issue of the 21st century.

    1. If the FBI had access to my phone, the worst that would likely happen is that I would be embarrassed by some of the stupid shit my friends and I text back and forth. I agree with Funky, I believe they already have the ability to hack the phone, but are using the emotion of this situation to force Apple to give them the ability to easily hack whatever phone they want and possibly, to do so without getting a court order down the road.

      The gun nuts have already done their part to claim that people on the no fly list should not be denied the right to have guns, where's the libertarians on this issue?

  3. "The government requires Apple's assistance to access the ... device to determine, among other things, who Farook and Malik may have communicated with to plan and carry out the IRC shootings, where Farook and Malik may have traveled to and from before and after the incident, and other pertinent information that would provide more information about their and others' involvement in the deadly shooting," prosecutors said in their initial filing on Tuesday.

    1. And they can, and apparently have, get a court order requiring Apple to assist. That's way different then the government compelling a private sector company to build in back door access for Homeland Security into the operating systems on all Apple mobile devices.

    2. pple's reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.

      Apple's reasonable technical assistance may include, but is not limited to: providing the FBI with a signed iPhone Software file, recovery bundle, or other Software Image File ("SIF") that can be loaded onto the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF will load and run from Random Access Memory and will not modify the iOS on the actual phone, the user data partition or system partition on the device's flash memory. The SIF will be coded by Apple with a unique identifier of the phone so that the SIF would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF will be loaded via Device Firmware Upgrade ("DFU") mode, recovery mode, or other applicable mode available to the FBI. Once active on the SUBJECT DEVICE, the SIF will accomplish the three functions specified in paragraph 2. The SIF will be loaded on the SUBJECT DEVICE at either a government facility, or alternatively, at an Apple facility; if the latter, Apple shall provide the government with remote access to the SUBJECT DEVICE through a computer allowing the government to conduct passcode recovery analysis.

      If Apple determines that it can achieve the three functions stated above in paragraph 2, as well as the functionality set forth in paragraph 3, using an alternate technological means from that recommended by the government, and the government concurs, Apple may comply with this Order in that way.

      The order also sets out that:

      To the extent that Apple believes that compliance with this Order would be unreasonably burdensome, it may make an application to this Court for relief within five business days of receipt of the Order.

  4. The government has capitulated and will just settle for access and not the software

    A win for apple

    1. It's a win for both.

      Limited on the response as it was from the cell phone.

    2. That's dedication to chime in from phone!

    3. Bored to tears from Salt Lake City.

      Headed home this afternoon.

    4. That's too bad. I like SLC, they had some good places to eat. There was a Nepali/Indian joint there with incredible food. I kinda like the area too, lotta nice stuff nearby, and a TON of ice rinks. I've heard mixed stuff about the LDS that run the spectrum from not being welcoming to anyone BUT other LDS, to being friendly. I've also heard the SLC is about 50/50 now, it's definitely controlled by the LDS, but otherwise is a more tolerant place to live than might be expected. I think it's a pretty cool city. If I could make similar wages as an NP there as I could here, I would strongly consider moving there, but salaries across the board in all fields are way way under what they are elsewhere.

    5. I always look for non chain restaurants when traveling. The chain restaurants provide edible food and nothing else.

      Did find a neat Greek place, good food and a friendly atmosphere missing at the chains.

      Things are getting a bit pricey in the Denver Metro area. Housing leading the charge. If your selling and leaving the area you stand to do well. If your looking for housing, a bit difficult as inventory is low in moist good areas.