Paul Gordon Collier

apple fbiNATIONAL NEWS- Tim Cook of Apple Inc just laid down the gauntlet on the FBI in a move that caught many off guard.  The move follows a court order for the company to follow FBI instructions to create software that would allow the FBI to have access to any iPhone they want to have access to.
Cook characterized the order in this way:

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.

The FBI move comes in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. Here again is how Cook characterized it:

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.

Cook has answered to the court order to fulfill the FBI request that his company will not comply with the order and will challenge its legality.  Cook said:

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.

This reaction comes right after a court ruling on Tuesday, February 18th by Los Angeles US District Court Magisterial Judge Sheri Pym that Apple had to comply with the FBI request, citing “reasonable technical assistance” should be expected to help investigations that require unlocking data on San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone.

Pym was appointed by the US Central District of California’s Chief Judge, , in 2011.  King was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1995.

What does the order entail?  In part, in means deactiving the auto-erase function (a function that is triggered when 10 consecutive false passwords are entered into the phone) and letting investigators submit their own passcode guesses.

It was Federal prosecutors that initially asked Apple to ‘assist’ in the San Bernardino shooting investigation, which Apple, even after this ruling, has declined to fulfill.

“Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search, but has declined to provide that assistance voluntarily,” prosecutors said.

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