Obama administration claims FBI is not asking Apple for a ‘backdoor’ to the iPhone

“The White House said it is not the aim of the government to compromise the security of Apple’s iPhone, as it only wants the company to help in the case of one phone that was used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino, California, attack on Dec. 2,” John Ribeiro reports for IDG News Service.

“Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered Apple to provide assistance, including by providing signed software if required, to help the FBI try different passcodes on a locked iPhone 5c running iOS 9, without triggering the auto-erasure feature in the phone after 10 failed attempts,” Ribeiro reports.

“White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday during a briefing that the Department of Justice is ‘not asking Apple to redesign its product or to create a new backdoor to one of their products.’ It is ‘simply asking for something that would have an impact on this one device,'” Ribeiro reports. “Apple has said it will appeal the order, which by some accounts could take it even to the Supreme Court.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday: It’s not just one phone. Any random idiot should be able to grasp that simple fact. If they don’t seem to get it, look for ulterior motive(s).

Privacy activists plan rallies across U.S. to support Apple in battle against U.S. government on February 23rd – February 18, 2016
Google CEO Sundar Pichai wishy-washy on Apple’s fight against U.S. government backdoor demands – February 18, 2016
Why Apple is fighting back against U.S. federal government demands for iPhone access – February 17, 2016
Snowden backs Apple in fight over iPhone; blasts Google’s silence – February 17, 2016
Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone – February 17, 2016
Security firm shows how Apple could bypass iPhone security to comply with FBI request – February 17, 2016
What the Apple court order means for your smartphone privacy – February 17, 2016
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


      1. I think the most profound evidence to date in regard to the intellect of the voting public, is that Donald Trump is twice as likely to win the race for the Republican nomination for the office of POTUS as his next nearest rival.

    1. Ahhhh, if only we could have complete domination of the government by the oh-so-noble republicans.

      Yeh, standing up for the people. Would that be like the efforts of liberty-loving republicans in Florida and Texas to shut down off-grid living?

    2. no… Not all Americans are idiots…. But a lot of us are paranoid, and self centered and Naive .
      Listen folks…
      Unlocking a phone by a court order is not the same as a back door…. Or conpromising an activly encrypted phone when in use.


      Government can search my home with the proper court order. The most privet place to me .
      Government can tap my land line with court order. And has for decades with proper court order.
      Government can confiscate my computets with proper court order and search the HD… ( iphone is a pocket computer )

      This is not an either or case …… Its way more complex and consequential to just leave it in hands of dogmatic idealism .

      Creat the proper provisions and everyone wins.

      Times changes… so should we… … Thats fundimental to survival.

      In the meanwhile apple is loving the Publicity .. ;)……. It may even all be by design …..(. After all its months we have been screaming for apple PR to wake up)..lol


  1. The terrorists destroyed their personal cellphones and disposed of the hard drives from their computers. The iPhone was provided by their employer ( the San Bernardino agency ). If they thought there might any sensitive information on that iPhone, then it too would have been destroyed in order to ensure that nothing could be recovered.

    This case is totally about creating a precedent to crack all iPhones in the future because it’s simply absurd to imagine that any terrorist-related information will ever have been on this government-owned iPhone.

    1. This really sound like an excuse to crack all iPhones. Even if Apple was willing, such tempering (uploading code and data on an iPhone) would probably be considered a break in the chain of custody and render any proofs useless in court.

  2. This is irrelevant. By the time this case makes it through the courts, Apple will have redesigned all their hardware software to withstand this attack vector also. So Apple breaks into this phone a year from now…. This means nothing as far as a precedent going forward because it will be physically impossible going forward. Apple isn’t going to get drug into the middle of law enforcement issues any more.

    1. Installing a new version of iOS via DFU mode, results in the loss of encryption keys. (Which is why a backup and restore is always required)

      So this attack vector has to require the device being booted from an external (connected via lighting) image.

      I was actually surprise that booting the phone from an external image is even possible on a production phone. I’m assuming the functionality was included to allow apple (stores) to run diagnostics on an owners non-bootable device.

  3. So much of what passes for “political leadership” these days seems to be about crafting the ridiculous lies that can persuade the greatest number of stupid people. I miss informed citizenry being a respected cornerstone of free society.

    Lucky for us, all iPhones look more or less the same, so I think even dumbest can grasp how breaking “just one” iPhone might affect other iPhones. We’d be screwed if some iPhones were browner than other iPhones because of their factories relative distance to the equator.

  4. It’s all about precedent in the courts. If the government forces Apple to unlock and gain access to the San Bernardino iPhone, then government will drag Apple into court and make them do it over and over again. Obama is wrong when he says “Just this one time”. hah what a joke. What do you expect from a former sleazeball slumlord lawyer.

  5. Unbelievable they just don’t get it. That Apple would have to write a new iOS that would allow this and thus a back door for hackers and other governments. It doesn’t matter if it’s one iPhone or millions.

    Apple CAN’T unlock this one either in any case, so it’s all about future incursions by order of the court which is what they say they don’t want. We have a very confused government which of course is no surprise. Most politicians are complete technology dunces, as are judges.

  6. Does anyone think those “terrorists” in San Bernardino are really part of a larger “network.” Can you imagine the communications between them and ISIS– for example: “Dear ISIS, we are terrorists in the Los Angeles area. We have a plan for a significant terror attack– we want to attack the 30 people we work with in a suburban office park. I’m sure you will agree this is a great idea” . . . anyone at ISIS who got that email would say, “What a bunch of whackos.”

  7. IIRC, the FBI wants Apple, by whatever means, to disable the “delete data after 10 failed attempts” option so that they can perform brute force attacks against the phone.

    BTW, 128 bit encryption has 3.4×10(38th power) combinations. A 10 pentaflop supercomputer would require 1 billion, billion years to exhaust all the combinations.

    The FBI must be asking for something else and that’s what Apple is afraid to do.

    1. I’m guessing the device is locked with a 4 digit PIN. So really it’s only 9,999 combinations which would take running a script crack script an hour or two perhaps? They just don’t want device to erase data after 10 failed attempts

    2. 128 bit encryption is pretty good encryption but it’s not unbreakable. They’ve got some smart mathematicians who can create algorithms that will make brute forcing through every possibly combination unnecessary. AustinX is also correct. They only need the 4 digit PIN. Search for the weak link you know.

  8. Not just the obama administration, but every republican running for president. The NSA and FBI are more important than your rights.

    This is a bi-partisan mess.

    1. If Apple is forced to comply, they will have to give it their best faith effort. With even the slightest appearance of noncompliance or stalling, Apple employees start being hauled off to jail. And hefty fines would follow.

      However, Apple may have some other avenues to take. They may be able to get a date in court to persuade a judge that they should not be compelled to hand over proprietary code to the Government because if the US Government can get that code so can any other government and potentially criminal organizations as well. Time would need to be set aside for the courts to consider the numerous amicus briefs that would be filed in Apple’s support.

      The outcome might be that Apple would have to set up a separate lab for their own employees to try to break into the phone with FBI personnel in the room but not driving any coding. And, should Apple be successful in breaking into the phone they may be able to convince a judge that that code is also proprietary and cannot be shared directly with the Government. Not a great outcome by any means but it’s the lesser evil than what the FBI really wants, which is to be able to crack any iPhone at will.

  9. Let’s assume that it is “just for that one phone” (as unlikely as that statement may be to anyone with half a brain), the onus should be on the FBI to come up with a method that cannot be replicated by anybody other than Apple (good luck with that).

  10. I get that the FBI/Obama Administration is not asking for a backdoor. But they seem to act as if there is going to be some method by which the security can be breached on this single device and not pose a risk to others. But when you have millions of devices that all are built the same way and use the exact same technology for encryption, whatever they do to compromise this one will then pose the same threat to all the others. To act as if you do not understand that is to assume that we are all fools. (Which as people have pointed out, there is reason that they might think that. )

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