It has been just over two months since a married Muslim-American couple opened fire on a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 co-workers. Since then, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating the couple, who appear to have been inspired by Islamic State.
But investigators have been unable to access information stored on one of the suspect’s password protected iPhone. Using an obscure law, written in 1789 — the All Writs Act — the FBI got a federal judge to order Apple to place a back door into its iOS software in order to gain access.
This week, Apple CEO Tim Cook answered the FBI with a firm “no,” setting off a huge debate, much of it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. The question of privacy versus national security is reminiscent of the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed the extent to which the U.S. government is “listening” to its citizens.
Encryption, back doors, government spying all summon up the fantasy world of George Orwell’s famed novel “1984.” Sixty-seven years later, Americans ponder the same dilemma, while weighing legitimate needs of law enforcement.
Apple CEO Cook Right to Defend iPhone Encryption
The Editorial Board – The Seattle Times
This is the slipperiest of slopes. The value of information gleaned from a particular phone is far outweighed by the erosion of privacy and liberty that would result from enabling the FBI to defeat Apple’s encryption.
Already, American tech companies are suffering because federal snooping has undermined their products’ global reputation.
A bigger concern, though, is the corrosive effect these police tactics have on America’s position as the standard-bearer for civil liberties, innovation and leadership on technology policy.
When Phone Encryption Blocks Justice
Cyrus R. Vance, Francois Molins, Adrian Leppard and Javier Zaragoza – The New York Times
Apple, Google and other proponents of full-disk encryption have offered several rationales for this new encryption technology. They have portrayed the new policy as a response to the concerns raised by Edward J. Snowden about data collection by the National Security Agency. They say full-disk encryption makes devices generally more secure from cybercrime. And they assert that, if the companies had master encryption keys, then repressive governments could exploit the keys.
These reasons should not be accepted at face value. The new Apple encryption would not have prevented the N.S.A.’s mass collection of phone-call data or the interception of telecommunications, as revealed by Mr. Snowden. There is no evidence that it would address institutional data breaches or the use of malware. And we are not talking about violating civil liberties — we are talking about the ability to unlock phones pursuant to lawful, transparent judicial orders.
Editors note: While the excerpt of the above op-ed was written some months before the San Bernardino attacks, VOA editors believe the commentary of the authors is applicable to the current news story.
I’ll Decrypt the San Bernardino Phone Free of Charge So Apple Doesn’t Need to Place a Back Door on Its Product
John McAfee – Business Insider
No matter how you slice this pie, if the government succeeds in getting this back door, it will eventually get a back door into all encryption, and our world, as we know it, is over. In spite of the FBI’s claim that it would protect the back door, we all know that’s impossible….
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.
With all due respect to Tim Cook and Apple, I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet. These hackers attend Defcon in Las Vegas, and they are legends in their local hacking groups, such as HackMiami.
They are all prodigies, with talents that defy normal human comprehension. About 75% are social engineers. The remainder are hardcore coders.I would eat my shoe on the Neil Cavuto show if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino phone. This is a pure and simple fact.
The Encryption Fight Isn’t About Apple, It’s About All of Us
Dieter Bohn – Verge
People of goodwill will argue that in the light of horror like the shootings in San Bernardino, we can make a one-time exception to pry into a monster’s private communication.
But it won’t be just a window into their life — it will become a window into all our lives. If this issue weren’t wound up in technology, terror, and politics, would you really be okay with such a window? Or more to the point: to a microphone in your most private spaces? …
But no, this isn’t just about Apple vs. the FBI. It is about how we extend ourselves as humans across the vast distances that separate us. Encrypted communication is the future of how we will talk to each other, intimately, without fear.