What the Apple court order means for your smartphone privacy

“Late on Tuesday a federal magistrate judge in California ordered Apple to help the FBI break into the cell phones of the San Bernardino shooters,” Eric Reed reports for TheStreet. “Agents have so far been unable to access the password-encrypted data on Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone, which they believe could contain communications between Farook and his co-conspirator, wife Tashfeen Malik, as well as potentially others.”

“In Judge Sheri Pym’s ruling she ordered that Apple provide ‘reasonable technical assistance’ and such specialized software as necessary to override the iPhone’s self-destruct feature, a failsafe which wipes out all data on the device if a user enters too many false passwords. The FBI would like to use a brute-force approach to unlock Farook’s device which would otherwise trigger this precaution,” Reed reports. “The assistance which Apple has been ordered to provide would allow agents to try as many passwords as necessary to unlock the device without destroying its data.”

“In the context of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence this it’s similar to the difference between subpoenaing the combination to a safe and forcing someone to help crack it,” Reed reports. “What makes the digital world different is the rise of encryption which even the government cannot break, creating the possibility of warrants that it can execute only with outside assistance. This is different from the traditional assumption that law enforcement can forcibly conduct a search or seizure with minimal aid from third parties. The result, however, is a contest that is (legally) more about Apple’s right to be left alone than about data privacy or protection. Apple has five days to contest this decision if it feels Pym’s ruling was unreasonably burdensome.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple should appeal this wrongheaded decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be. No company should be forced to degrade its products and expose its customers to greater risks of attack at the hands of a feckless government.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

EFF opposes U.S. government demand to force Apple to unlock terrorist’s iPhone – February 17, 2016
‘Who do they think they are?’ Donald Trump blasts Apple for not unlocking San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone – February 17, 2016
Tim Cook posts open letter opposing U.S. government demands to bypass iPhone encryption – February 17, 2016
Apple CEO opposes court order to help FBI unlock San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone – February 17, 2016
Apple wants judge to rule if it can be forced to unlock defendant’s iPhone – February 16, 2016
U.S. House lawmakers seek to outlaw states from banning encrypted iPhones – February 10, 2016
Obama administration wants access to smartphones – December 15, 2015
Obama administration’s calls for backdoors into encrypted communications echo Clinton-era key escrow fiasco – December 14, 2015
Donald Trump: To stop ISIS recruiting, maybe we should be talking to Bill Gates about ‘closing that Internet up in some way’ – December 8, 2015
Hillary Clinton: We need to put Silicon Valley tech firms to ‘work at disrupting ISIS’ – December 7, 2015
Apple CEO Cook: ‘You can’t have a back door that’s only for the good guys’ – November 21, 2015
Apple CEO Cook defends encryption, opposes back door for government spies – October 20, 2015
Do not let the government snoops weaken encryption – November 4, 2015
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Judge compares government request for Apple to access users’ iPhone data to execution order – October 27, 2015
U.S. judge expresses doubts over forcing Apple to unlock iPhone – October 26, 2015
Apple tells U.S. judge it can’t unlock iPhones running iOS 8 or higher – October 20, 2015
a href=”http://macdailynews.com/2015/10/20/apple-ceo-cook-defends-encryption-opposes-back-door-for-government-spies/”>Apple CEO Cook defends encryption, opposes back door for government spies – October 20, 2015
With Apple court order, activist federal judge seeks to fuel debate about data encryption – October 12, 2015
Judge declines to order Apple to disable security on device seized by U.S. government – October 10, 2015
Apple refused to give iMessages to the U.S. government – September 8, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015


    1. CHINA owns the US Government. Sad. Take a read on this excerpt…
      Forget the war on Christmas. When we gave our souls to tech consumerism, we became pawns in the war on privacy. We just are too caught up with Instagramming our croissants to realize that we are slowly being assimilated into the greater machine. For example, Samsung recently reminded consumers not to have private conversations in front of their smart TV’s that have always-on listening features. According to Samsung’s privacy policy, “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”
      How this personnel privacy invasion from foreign communist countries is allowed to continue on AMERICAN soil is mind blowing. The U.S. Government is the enemy of AMERICAN TAXPAYING CITIZENS. Wake UP!! People..


  1. Based on what I’m reading and Tim Cook’s letter, the government seems to be using this case as a way to force Apple to create a backdoor that the government can use to bypass any encryption on an Apple device. In essence the government is using a backdoor approach to get Apple to create the backdoor on its devices that the government has been lusting for.

    Once the backdoor is created, we are all doomed. No more secrets. No more privacy on electronic devices. Any private information you have will be safer in a mason jar buried in your back yard then on your computer or phone.

    Oh, you say, you have nothing to hide. Well then give me the user names and passwords used to access your bank accounts. And how about sharing your medical records with the world or let me monitor your computer activity during the day so I know when you are home and not. I’m sure our government can be trusted with this data and would never, ever misuse it. And, of course, once a backdoor existed, hackers would never venture through to get your data. Not a chance.

    We may be on the brink of returning to pencil, paper, and secret handshakes.

      1. I am no fan of the President, but the Court needs to have a full compliment of justices.

        Mr Obama was elected twice- beating both Republicans by a significant margin and has the responsibility to fill the vacancy. There is no need to wait.

  2. Absolute Monarchists, Tyrants, Nazis believed it is their right to do with “citizens” however they please.

    In some corners of the World people think Democracy means that the majority can dictate what everyone else has to do.

    But democracy means: WE, THE PEOPLE.

    And the law is there to protect the rights and freedoms of every individual. To restrict the power if the state.

    It’s sad to see that the USA is throwing away centuries of struggles and achievement in exchange for a new form of slavery.

    Why is this not being discussed in the presidential debates???

  3. Court to Apple: “provide ‘reasonable technical assistance’ and such specialized software as necessary to override the iPhone’s self-destruct feature”

    Apple to court: hand them a phone charger and show them how to punch in the password. “That’s as much as any of us can do to access it, and all of the technical assistance necessary. Good luck.”

  4. Why does the USSA want a dead person’s old data? What happened to the 3 full military dress white men who did the actual shootings in San Berdu? Why doesn’t the USSA provide a warrant for the phone records and triangulation? All they have to do is ask the NSA for the info. It was all recorded by them.

  5. The Gubbermint has misused, abused, and engaged in some of the most OUTRAGEOUS illegal conduct to wit— NSA, DEA, FBI, IRS, Lerner, Attkinson, DOJ, etc etc etc……….
    Their unrepentant, unabated conduct has now earned them the universal “Hell NO” response……..
    Encryption and “burner phones” have been around for YEARS!!

    And for the TSA–“it’s for our safety” crowd I say BS.
    Feds get off your azzzzzzzzzzzz and go recruit sources/informants and get out of the office and away from your desktop….

  6. Suppose the government unlocks the iPhone only to discover the emails are encrypted with open pgp (an app on the iPhone,) additionally an Steganography app on the phone leads the government to believe that hidden messages in photos have been posted to a FaceBook account (not necessarily the account of the iPhone owner.) How far will the government pursue companies to decrypt the message? Will FaceBook be forced to locate photos that may contain hidden messages in unknowing third party’s FaceBook pages? 🖖😀⌚️

  7. An order by a judge is the right way to seek assistance from a phone provider. The phone belonged to a terrorist who is now dead. Of course Apple should do everything they can to assist with the recovery of intelligence from the phone.

  8. One mass murder done by terrorists is not a reason to break rock solid encryption. If you want to prevent terrorism, make the weapons and ammo manufacturers who supply the sources of harm and injury to come up with their own terror prevention technologies.

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