U.S. asks Apple to cripple its iPhone security system, again

Can’t figure out who the Pensacola terrorist was texting? Put the heat on Cupertino to build a backdoor key.

From “Barr Asks Apple to Unlock iPhones of Pensacola Gunman” posted on NYTimes.com Monday.

Attorney General William P. Barr declared on Monday that a deadly shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., was an act of terrorism, and he asked Apple in an unusually high-profile request to provide access to two phones used by the gunman.

Mr. Barr’s appeal was an escalation of an ongoing fight between the Justice Department and Apple pitting personal privacy against public safety.

“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr. Barr said, calling on Apple and other technology companies to find a solution and complaining that Apple has provided no “substantive assistance.”

Apple has given investigators materials from the iCloud account of the gunman, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi air force training with the American military, who killed three sailors and wounded eight others on Dec. 6. But the company has refused to help the F.B.I. open the phones themselves, which would undermine its claims that its phones are secure.

First time tragedy, second time farce. See Apple 3.0’s San Bernardino archives.

My take: Whom are you going you trust with your money and your iPhone, Tim Cook or lying William Barr?


  1. David Emery said:
    Shame on you, PED. A “request” is NOT an “order”. Please fix the headline.

    January 13, 2020
  2. Turley Muller said:
    They got 10 guesses— they better make them count. I’d try 09112001.

    This isn’t even debatable. The Constitution guarantees citizens’ right to privacy, and the government is tasked to protect that right, not violate it. Same applies to an individual’s safe being and property. Those are tenants that should not just apply to Americans if we truly believe in them. Weakening security places dissidents is grave danger from oppressive governments. If Apple can get in, then anybody can get in. This puts every user at risk.

    It’s not like iPhones are the sole source of evidence. FBI is just going to have to get up a little earlier and work a little harder.

    January 13, 2020
  3. John Konopka said:
    More BS from our mendacious AG. There are several firms providing the service of cracking iPhone passwords. Barr is making a show of this to bash Apple.

    January 13, 2020
    • David Emery said:
      Not necessarily. Barr can make a pretty strong case for why the government should not depend on private hackers to execute a government search warrant. (That doesn’t mean Barr can make a compelling case for a company to provide a government back door to execute that warrant.) The use of a 3rd party provides substantial risk of further compromising sensitive and private information (‘sensitive’ from a govt perspective for the investigation.) Furthermore, the government can (try to) argue that it (alone) can provide adequate safeguards. (That’s probably in the same class of arguments that prevents certain lawsuits against the govt, because unlike a private company or individual, the govt is presumed to be working in our best interests.) But IANAL.

      January 13, 2020
      • Fred Stein said:
        If law enforcement can use get a search warrant to ask an informant, usually a criminal, to wear a wire, why can’t they apply the same approach to hiring a hacker? Also IANAL.

        January 13, 2020
  4. Fred Stein said:
    This goes beyond politics or personalities. (Note “broad bipartisan consensus”, a nostalgic dream from the past.)

    1) In 2015, pre San Bernardino, the following article, quotes the OTI, “By the end of the ’90s, after nearly a decade of debate, there was a broad bipartisan consensus that policies intended to weaken or restrict access to strong encryption were bad for privacy, bad for security, bad for business, and a bad strategy for combatting crime. Encryption backdoors are just bad policy, period, and that’s as true now as it was twenty years ago — even more so, when we need strong encryption to protect us from a growing range of cyberthreats.” see https://www.insidesources.com/the-battle-over-encryption-backdoors-started-in-the-90s-are-we-doomed-to-repeat-it/

    2) We’re headed to 20,000,000,000 connected, therefore hackable, devices. At that scale, there’s no way to administer or control back-doors without further exposing everyone’s personal finances, private lives, or the safety of trains, power grids, etc.

    3) If we give the FBI permission we set a precedent for others, including roque states.

    4) The FBI paid a company $1M to crack the San Bernadino iPhone. If Apple had a backdoor, an Apple employee could be tempted to sell out.

    5) Most serious bad actors get burner phones and dark web encryption anyway.

    January 13, 2020
  5. Kathy Corby said:
    More or less off topic, but thank you, Phillip, for using the pronoun “whom” correctly.
    The grammarian against whom your mother warned you.

    January 13, 2020

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