The Last Bite of Apple’s iPhone

It hadn’t been in the plans to return to Mag. Pym’s Apple warrant again, having addressed it only yesterday, but confusion about the confluence of law and technology persists.  First, there was Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter to customers, in which he makes the case for why this order is a showdown that will make or break privacy.

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.

The argument is not merely sound, but a bellwether. Once the door is forced open, there will be no closing it for anyone who wants to get in. Unfortunately, this leads Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times to demonstrate how utterly clueless tech-types can be, and try to make as many people stupider as humanly possible.

But if the confrontation has crystallized in this latest battle, it may already be heading toward a predictable conclusion: In the long run, the tech companies are destined to emerge victorious.

There will probably be months of legal tussling, and it is not at all clear which side will prevail in court, nor in the battle for public opinion and legislative favor.

Yet underlying all of this is a simple dynamic: Apple, Google, Facebook and other companies hold most of the cards in this confrontation. They have our data, and their businesses depend on the global public’s collective belief that they will do everything they can to protect that data.

No. This is fundamentally clueless. Manjoo may get away with writing such drivel at the narcissists’ safe space, Slate, but not in a newspaper for grown-ups.  To describe what we will be facing as “legal tussling” reflects the depth of ignorance. This is a life or death battle, and while tech heads can easily wrap around Apple’s argument, the law enforcement argument means nothing to them.

It’s because this fight is so important that such cluelessness cannot be allowed to go unaddressed.  Legal tussling? How about “legal tussling” that ends with marshals with guns pointed at Tim Cook’s head telling him to break open the iPhone or else? Nobody with a gun pointed at their head calls it “legal tussling.”  Nobody who appreciates the depth of concern on the other side is so absurdly cavalier as to announce in advance that tech will “emerge victorious.”

And nobody, but a blithering idiot, thinks tech companies “hold most of the cards in this confrontation.”

Cy Vance, who may not know a whole lot about technology but has emerged as a spokesmodel for the law enforcement position against encryption, explains why Manjoo doesn’t get it.

iPhones are the first warrant-proof consumer products in American history. They compel law enforcement to deploy extraordinarily creative prosecutorial strategies – and obtain state-of-the-art tools – to carry out even the most basic steps of a criminal investigation. I applaud our federal colleagues for their commitment to justice for the 14 killed in San Bernardino and their families.

The magistrate judge’s order rests firmly on centuries of jurisprudence holding that no item – not a home, not a file cabinet and not a smartphone – lies beyond the reach of a judicial search warrant. It affirms the principle that decisions about who can access key evidence in criminal investigations should be made by courts and legislatures, not by Apple and Google. And it provides the highest-profile example to date of how Silicon Valley’s decisions inhibit real investigations of real crimes, with real victims and real consequences for public safety.

A fundamental precept of American jurisprudence is that “the law is entitled to every man’s evidence.”  What Manjoo fails to grasp is that law enforcement holds the trump card: neither the courts, nor the government, care more about Apple’s problems, technologies problems, the fate of world privacy, than they do about their own hegemony. In a battle between the law and all the arguments against compelling tech companies to do as they’re ordered, the courts have a weapon that cannot be dismissed. Judges get to decide which side wins. Judges will not be dismissed because some tech-lover like Manjoo loves tech more than law.

And lest anyone explain why the arguments favoring technology in the war must prevail, and that Apple is mightier than the United States, than any government, so that you pray Apple prevails, pause a moment to consider exactly what you are praying for.

At this moment in time, we’re all cheering for Tim Cook, who is expressing the concerns and dread that so many of us have when it comes to the government’s Luddite view of how the future of privacy stacks up to its demand for control.  Yay, Apple.

But if Apple, Google, Facebook prevail, and prove themselves mightier than our government, any government, then their CEOs become our new Overlords, omnipotent kings who cannot be stopped or controlled.  At the moment, they seem like benevolent kings, standing up for something with which we agree. But did you get to vote on Tim Cook ascending to the throne?

As Lord Acton explained, power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We may despise the government’s assertion of power over our privacy, but does that mean we’ll like it better when the power is in Tim Cook’s hands? Or Mark Zuckerberg’s?

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, simple and easy about this battle for control over the future.  While the details underlying this particular order, cracking a phone of a someone who has already completed his killing, may not make you tear up, it may be different when it’s a dirty bomb that has yet to go off in Los Angeles, and it can’t be stopped because Tim Cook says “no.”

This isn’t to say that I’m with Cy on this one. I’m not. But I’m also deeply afraid of the alternative, as I have no plans to bow down to the technology gods either. The point is that this is a terrible choice, replete with problems and issues that defy simplistic solution, and of all the spectacularly stupid things to say, Manjoo wins the prize for proclaiming technology to emerge victorious.

70 comments on “The Last Bite of Apple’s iPhone

  1. David Stretton

    The flaw in your ‘new Overlords’ argument is that any person can refuse to be a subject by not buying or using certain products or services. And none of these things are essential to modern life – some are cool, some are useful, but none are essential.

    1. SHG Post author

      You can live in a cabin in the woods, never engage with anyone else, and escape any connection to technology. But not too many of us will choose to do so.

  2. Richard G. Kopf

    SHG,

    While there are aspects of the order that pose interesting issues like requiring Apple to construct software (possibly) to turn off the locking technology, Apple could certainly be forced to turn over the preexisting source code for that technology and related engineering drawings relevant to the locking technology.

    What I find most interesting about this case is the assertion that Apple and IPhones are special. They are no more special than hospitals and a patient’s medical records or banks and a client’s bank records (digital or otherwise). In fact, “our source code” (DNA) is available to the government by warrant all the time, and even without a warrant if you happen to get booked into jail for taking a piss on the street one foggy and groggy New Year’s eve.

    All the best.

    RGK

    1. SHG Post author

      I made the point about Apple becoming an unwilling slave to the government’s demands yesterday. But you raise an interesting question: why is the government any more entitled to our “source code” than Apples? Maybe the answer is that they aren’t entitled to Apple’s, and they shouldn’t be entitled to ours as well. We’ve just been far too kind to the government up to now, and should take back what we’ve given away too easily.

      1. Richard G. Kopf

        SHG,

        As you know, that ship has sailed when it comes to DNA for both (1) warrantless collection of DNA for “identification” purposes at bookings and (2) for the collection of DNA evidence in criminal investigations via a warrant. Good luck at “taking that back.”

        For all those originalists and textualists who get the vapors over such things (as exemplified by Justice Scalia’s dissent in Maryland v. King, 133 S. Ct. 1958, 569 US __, (2013)) all is not lost. I understand, from reading medical texts popular at the Founding, that the vapors can be cured through the judicious use of leeches. Now that I think about it, Tim Cook might want to think about such a treatment.

        All the best.

        RGK

        1. SHG Post author

          When DNA is used for purposes beyond identification, such as proclivities toward sociopathic behaviors, people may wish for the reintroduction of leeches into their medical care. At least then, they’ll have some control over things that suck.

            1. Leonard

              I think that what you’re arguing about in this case is useless. If you do not believe that every intelligence agency in the world doesn’t already have a copy of IOS or any other operating system, you’re extremely naive. The government has the capability to break into this phone. The government WANTS THE LEGAL PRECENDENT to force a company to do it for them.

    2. JR

      Since this place has helpful to me, a geek, in getting a better understanding of the law and the court system, I’ll provide a little payback.

      The problem is that any source code or engineering drawings are worthless to the FBI. In many cases I don’t need source code to make some change to executable code. One can find the screen locking routines, and patch them NOP (No Operation) instructions to get around the issue.

      The problem is that the OS and any applications from the Apple store, and boot loaders are all digitally signed. If I make any change to the executable after signing, then loading it will be rejected. At the lowest levels this is enforced by the hardware.

      What the FBI would love to have, along with every other worldwide 3 letter agency, is the signing certificate that Apple uses. They could then make their own “apps” to install that can do whatever they want. Once someone has that Cert, unless you change all the hardware that already exist in the world, everyone is at risk. You can never trust anything again.

      In this case the FBI wants Apple to make a special OS update with passcode functions changed. Read a bit closer. They want the phone to accept the passcode over the USB port so they can rapid fire try all the 4 digit codes. In order words, they want to be able to break into an iPhone with 4 digit password very quickly. I fail to see why they need to break this phone in a few seconds compared to maybe a day.

      Maybe I don’t have my tin foil hat adjusted right, but that doesn’t sound like something you need for this one case. It sounds like they want a tool that they will keep and use outside of this case. Even without the fast features, nothing stops this the FBI from keeping this tool and sharing it.

      What if the court ordered Master Lock to provide a special device that can open up any Master lock? They might want it just to get into SHG’s house based a court order, but I think they will never give that key back.

      1. Corporate Tool

        “Even without the fast features, nothing stops this the FBI from keeping this tool and sharing it. Or losing it. Excellent comment, JR.

      2. Kyle W

        Have you tried manually breaking into an iPhone? It’s not that you can try one and if it doesn’t work go on to the next one. The software locks the iPhone, increasing the time for each invalid attempt.

      3. Christopher Best

        JR’s right on the money with this, but I think the Master Lock analogy actually falls short. The thing about how encryption and digital signatures work is that once you break it for the FBI, you’ve effectively broken it for any reasonably technically competent criminal in the world. It’s just a matter of time.
        That’s the double-edged sword nature of how this all works: either you have perfect security, or no security. Broken once is broken forever. And I’m much less worried about cops searching it without a warrant than a pickpocket getting the contents.

        1. Keith

          He’s correct for iPhones 5C and earlier. My understanding is that this doesn’t apply due to hardware changes in the next generation.

          It may just be due to lack of understanding of the legal issue on my part, but do the technical differences inform the issue here at all?

          If the specs / security signature keys can be seized and used to create something to break the 5c, would that be a more traditional seizure under the 4th amendment? If they can’t use the specs, like in the case of the A7 chip, wouldn’t that become a very different issue for a court to consider (i.e. creating a new door that doesn’t yet exist)?

          Or am I just failing to grasp something?

          1. SHG Post author

            Or am I just failing to grasp something?

            Maybe the part where this is a law blog, and not an opportunity for geeks to argue irrelevant effluvia because that’s all they got?

            1. SHG Post author

              My scheme was the blue default at GoDaddy’s QuikBlogCast in 2007. When I moved to WordPress, I had someone recreate it, as it wasn’t a WP theme option. I have made the affirmative decision to keep this place as ugly, old, unattractive, unsophisticated and un-cutting edge as possible, so that no one would come here because they thought it was hipster-friendly. All substance, no flash. None. What more could I do to drive people away?

          2. Paul Beard

            This was based on some guesses that have since been confirmed by Apple to be wrong.

            The tool would work on any iPhone manufactured today.

      4. pavlaugh

        As a non-techie lawyer, I too found your post helpful. I read the order SHG linked to yesterday, and Paragraph 3 sounds a lot more cumbersome and potentially deleterious to Apple than simply handing over some bank records or medical records. Judge Kopf’s analogy seems stretched beyond usefulness.

        As Judge Pym noted in Paragraph 7, Apple’s argument will be that compliance is “unreasonably burdensome.” That’s the standard per SCOTUS case law concerning the All Writs Act, assuming the All Writs Act applies at all: “[T]he power of federal courts to impose duties upon third parties is not without limits; unreasonable burdens may not be imposed.” United States v. N.Y. Tel. Co., 434 U.S. 159, 172 (1977). What is “unreasonably burdensome”? Well, we know that it is not unreasonably burdensome for a telephone company to install a pen register by leasing telephone lines to the government when compliance “require[s] minimal effort on the part of the Company and no disruption to its operations.” Id. at 175.

        That’s the floor. I’m sure Apple and the DOJ have fine lawyers who can research it into the ground, try to find the ceiling for “unreasonable burden,” and argue whether compliance with Paragraph 3 exceeds that ceiling or remains within the trial court’s discretion. As SHG pointed out, it will be (non-techie) judges deciding what is “unreasonable.” That’s law for ya.

        1. SHG Post author

          I wonder if it’s tactically wise for Apple to address the “unreasonably burdensome” prong, as it gives away half the arguments it should preserve. On the other hand, that’s the test. How is it no one saw this coming in 1798?

          1. pavlaugh

            You’re right — I think they’ll make the argument that the All Writs Act doesn’t apply at all (if they haven’t already made it; I’m not invested enough in this case to check). They had a drive-by footnote of that argument in an EDNY filing last year.

        2. Patrick Maupin

          Paragraph 175 certainly appears to one of the most pertinent parts of US v. N.Y. Tel. Co. An unstated but easily understood part of the analysis of burden is that the phone company was in the actual business of, among other things, supplying leased lines (whereas Apple’s phone unit is probably not in the business of supplying engineering services for random clients.)

          The preceding text in para 175 is even more interesting, with the discussions about how it cannot be argued that the telco “had a substantial interest in not providing assistance” and “Certainly the use of pen registers is by no means offensive to [N.Y. Tel. Co.].”

          Of course, the implication that the Supreme Court cared deeply about the interests of the telco is overshadowed by the fact that it felt comfortable dictating to the telco exactly what the boundaries of those interests were.

          A similar outcome-driven analysis in Apple may require a few more contortions. Even though Apple may have complied too readily with government orders in the past, it would still be difficult to argue with a straight face that Apple is in the business of helping to decrypt their customers’ data, or that Apple doesn’t now find the idea of decrypting customer data offensive, or even that they don’t have a substantial interest in not providing assistance.

          1. SHG Post author

            Please don’t waste any more of my bandwidth on this nonsense. This is merely how precedent is used in a ex parte proceeding, at its most obvious and simplistic level. Nothing to see here, yet. Wait until Apple challenges the warrant.

    3. Patrick Maupin

      > …forcibly turn over source code…

      If I were Apple, I would probably prefer to give the government’s techies access to my materials in a secure corporate facility under NDA rather than do the work myself.

      If failure is imminent, then Apple avoids the hard questions about whether it was deliberate. If recovery is achieved but takes two years, Apple can tell the Chinese that it is apparently possible but Apple doesn’t know how it happened. And if the effort is abandoned, it’s because the government wants to extricate its own skin from the game — skin that their current order apparently doesn’t contemplate — not because an exasperated magistrate gets tired of Apple saying they can’t figure it out and then just decides to fine them gaxillions for obstruction of justice.

    4. Keith

      In fact, “our source code” (DNA) is available to the government by warrant all the time

      Is anyone making the argument that the Feds aren’t entitled to the source code in order to get at the information? My understanding was that they want Apple to make a new way of getting into the device.

      The “source code” is at least something in the custody and control of Apple that they can turn over in response to a valid judicial order. Requiring them to engineer a new tool that doesn’t exist seems like a very different request.

      If you compare this to a safe, requiring the schematics to enable law enforcement bypass the security is very different than forcing the safe company to create a new way of performing that action.

      1. SHG Post author

        A very sound argument could be made that the government is not entitled to the source code. If you want to give away your source code, go for it, but don’t give away mine.

  3. Patrick Maupin

    Farhood Manjoo is no “tech type.” His drivel always reminds me of a letter-to-the-editor that Dr. Dobbs once received: “Dear sirs. Please cancel my subscription. Everything you print is either obvious or wrong.”

  4. REvers

    If Apple creates the technology to crack the phone:

    1. The probability that the government will misuse it daily is 100% (and I say that only because percentages higher than 100 don’t make sense in this situation).
    2. The probability that other bad folks will use it is 100%.

    Whereas:

    3. The probability of a dirty bomb being used (and, if used, causing any sort of serious damage) is so close to 0% that the only people who should worry about it are the ones being paid to be Chicken Little.

    Therefore:

    GO, TIM, GO!

    1. SHG Post author

      PI lawyers are faced with two basic types of cases on the fringe. Poor liability but huge damages, or strong liability but negligible damages. Which one do they prefer? Which one makes them more money?

  5. paul

    Manjoo is quite the fool. One only has to look at lavabit to see how court mandates and principled technology companies play out when it comes to court. (Spoiler alert…it doesnt end well for the tech company)

    1. SHG Post author

      In fairness, Apple has the wherewithal to do a lot better than Levinson. That said, it doesn’t mean the outcome will be any different.

  6. LTMG

    By taking this action, Magistrate Pym and others in our government have communicated to anybody who wants to know that their communications can be safely encrypted. Earlier, there was the strong suggestion that this was the case, but it was not certain. One of the principles when engaging an enemy is to never reveal capability or lack of capability until it is absolutely necessary. In the interests of national security, was it really essential to advertise to the country’s foes that their iPhone was highly secure? Doubtful. I predict a quick depletion of iPhone inventory in certain parts of the world and sharply increased challenges to our country’s intelligence services.

  7. Thomas

    Hmmm, seems like the FBI, HLS, & the CIA simply could have jumped on a jet and took the damn phone directly to the friggin Apple Corp. Tell them how they take their coffee. Hand them a copy of the Warrant(s) and cuff the Briefcase to the Lab Tech’s wrist. Give them a number to call after they have printed out all of the Contact Info., including any & all texts, photos, and IMs. Went back to work and the public wouldn’t have the wiser.

    Instead, they went to CNN and it became Breaking News and picked up by every single outlet on the planet. Anyone in the predicting niche, is off their game if they failed to predict that the IPhone business is about to see a massive drop in sales & stocks. The layoffs will follow. Criminals will continue to use: hand signals, burn phones, steal WiFi / CB’s out of parked 18 wheelers and buy .49cent stamps in order to communicate, Doh!

  8. Steve Stein

    “How about “legal tussling” that ends with marshals with guns pointed at Tim Cook’s head telling him to break open the iPhone or else? Nobody with a gun pointed at their head calls it “legal tussling.””

    This is just pure nonsense, probably inspired by watching too much television. There may be a universe in which this might happen, but this is not it.

  9. Dan

    As a software developer, it blows my mind that the FBI has nobody on staff who can crack an iPhone’s security code. How is it that the federal government goes begging (or ordering or whatever) Apple for help? When they need to break a lock they don’t call the lockmaker, they force it.

    Doesn’t this come up all the time? This is not an insurmountable task. The FBI should have a full-time phone-cracking lab. Then they’d have a guy who knows how to do it in an hour.

      1. Dan

        I understand that. That’s why they need someone with the specialized skill to reverse-engineer and crack a device like this.

        For example, they could just do themselves pretty much what they are ordering Apple to do. Or they could make clones of the phone so it’s safe to attempt a brute-force attack. There are hundreds if not thousands of people in America with the technical skill to do this on their own.

        1. SHG Post author

          If you say so. I guess the thousands of geeks arguing about this should have just talked to you first. Since I’m no geek, and have already explained why this is totally irrelevant to the point here, I shrug.

          1. Dan

            OK, so you don’t care about the technical aspect of this, but you wouldn’t want to “grasp onto the part [you] can best understand, and thus ignore the other side,” right? Noted fugitive/madman/geek John McAfee agrees with me:

            “The fundamental question is this: Why can’t the FBI crack the encryption on its own? It has the full resources of the best the US government can provide.” [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

            He also brags his team could crack it in a week (“I would eat my shoe on the Neil Cavuto show if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino phone”), which I fully believe. There are certainly people who could do it faster.

            1. SHG Post author

              You’ve made a mistaken assumption that I’m unaware of the tech part. I read what McAfee had to say, not that I don’t think there is a huge element of self-puffery in there since he knows it will never be tested. But your persistence is surprising, given that you offered your comment and it’s there for anyone who gives a shit. Is it your plan to continue pushing until I reply that you’re a narcsissitic asshole?

          2. Dan

            I notice your last reply has no reply link. I guess you didn’t want to hear from me again after calling me a “narcsissitic [sic] asshole”? I’m here to learn from your perspective as a lawyer, which I find fascinating. I post comments sometimes. Every time you tell me what a fucking idiot I am and that my perspective is worthless. Fair cop, but then why have comments at all? Why respond to them with dismissive insults when you could just ignore or delete them? I thought the “obvious or wrong” exchange here was telling. I can’t tell whether it flew over your head or you just don’t care. But frankly I’m done with your smug bullshit.

            Please write another article bitching about millennial slackers, everyone really enjoys those!

            1. SHG Post author

              If you’re done with my smug bullshit, why did you leave another comment?

              Fair cop, but then why have comments at all?

              Because comments don’t exist exclusively for you. SJ doesn’t exist exclusively for you. Nothing here is all about you. Here’s the trick. You come here. I don’t come to you. If you didn’t come here, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue you existed. You didn’t get smacked for your initial comment. You got smacked because you couldn’t control your millennial compulsion to persist in reply. So you’re done with my smug bullshit? Okay. Poof.

            2. Christopher Best

              Hey, narcissistic asshole, I think the reply link goes away once comments nest to a certain level to prevent the formatting from becoming ridiculous.

              But I’m sure SHG configured it that way just to spite you this one time.

            3. Patrick Maupin

              I thought the “obvious or wrong” exchange here was telling. I can’t tell whether it flew over your head or you just don’t care.

              Whoosh.

  10. Tom H

    A question, if Apple was not a US company could the courts issue the same order? If all the facts were the same, except the phone was a Samsung could they force a foreign company to comply?

  11. Franklin Michaels

    “PI lawyers are faced with two basic types of cases on the fringe. Poor liability but huge damages, or strong liability but negligible damages. Which one do they prefer? Which one makes them more money?”

    And to the lone Magistrate Judge with the fate of the world in her hands, this makes sense. Question is whether it holds up before the court of last review, specifically an en banc panel of the 9th Circuit.

    Put another way, there’s a good chance this train was already leaving the station when Justice Scalia’s death was announced last Saturday. And where the All Writs Act/Judiciary Act of 1789 and the what became the Fourth Amendment were both drafted over the summer of 1789, with the Bill of Rights adopted two years later, it could easily be argued that the “originalist” language of the day, prohibiting the issuance of warrants for”unresasonable” searches was one thing, but getting in the way if that what was “necessary or appropriate” was something else altogether. Wonder if DOJ is still feeling lucky?

    1. SHG Post author

      The All Writs Act was a gap filler that was necessary at the birth of a nation, before there was a fully developed body of statutory and caselaw to enable the government to do its job but within the limits developed by Congress and the courts. But it’s merely statutory, and statutes don’t trump the Constitution. This could end up before the Supreme Court. Or not. Time will tell. Speculation is worthless and pointless.

  12. Brent W

    Scott, you may be interested in reading Bruce Schneier’s blog on this topic from Wednesday. There’s a choice quote that reframes the debate, I think:

    “The order is pretty specific technically. This implies to me that what the FBI is asking for is technically possible, and even that Apple assisted in the wording so that the case could be about the legal issues and not the technical ones.”

    It appears that I’m one of several programmers reading your blog. For what it’s worth given the disagreement in your comments section, I don’t think that the FBI has any way of getting data off that device without Apple’s help. If any 3-letter agency does it’s the NSA, and they keep those secrets close to their chest.

    1. SHG Post author

      Schneier, like the geeks here, frames the problem in technical terms. This is not merely unhelpful, but tends to make those who grasp onto the part they can best understand, and thus ignore the other side, stupider about the legal issues. Please don’t make people stupider.

      1. Brent W

        I don’t think Schneier cares about the technical side of the problem in this case at all. He’s approaching it from the perspective of a 3CSO. Apple needs to know what their obligations to law enforcement are, good or bad, so they can make future product decisions.

          1. Brent W

            Maybe you assume I’m not “getting it” because I’m glossing over some key points that are at odds with your analysis. I think your conclusion is flat out wrong, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg are not vying to be the overlords of privacy. They are simply distributing security tech that has been available for years. The developers of these products aren’t supposed to have any more access to the data than me or you, even if there’s a gun pointed at their head.

            1. Brent W

              I wanted to apologize for my comments yesterday. I recognize that I don’t have anything to contribute to the legal discussion, and that generally keeps me in line when I’m reading your blog. This hits closer to home and I felt like I had something to contribute, but this isn’t the place.

              And please don’t shutter SJ, thanks.

            2. SHG Post author

              No need to apologize. Sometimes it’s hard to get outside your own world to view it through another pair of eyes. It happens.

    1. SHG Post author

      This is not a non-lawyer silly question and answer blog. If you would like a lawyer to answer your questions, you can try Avvo, for free and incorrect answers, or retain the services of competent counsel.

  13. Peter

    The problem with this precedent, is what happens when the device can’t be brute-forced? This was a (IIRC) iPhone 5. What about future phones that require a fingerprint not pin? Apple going forward would have to construct a back door, which would be both a huge expense and massive security weakness. Plus, what about other phone makers don’t have Apple R&D money? The real 3-letter agency agenda here, it seems to me, is to get rid of whole device encryption. So for this reason, siding with the non-democratically accountable Apple is picking a slightly lesser evil than siding with the all but non-democratically accountable FBI.

    As a side note, it is funny how encryption is seen as a problem because it can be used as a tool for committing a crime. But the FBI aren’t calling for firearms makers, who make a product designed to do but one thing, to be put out of business. Yes, an encrypted phone may hold a smoking gun, like the address the proverbial bomb was planted at. But how likely is that really, outside of the major motion picture? Probably metadata–which is inherently exposed to the public airwaves–is a lot more useful. Metadata tells you where a phone has been and who the the user has been in contact with.

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