Secret memo details U.S. government’s broader strategy to crack phones

“Silicon Valley celebrated last fall when the White House revealed it would not seek legislation forcing technology makers to install ‘backdoors’ in their software — secret listening posts where investigators could pierce the veil of secrecy on users’ encrypted data, from text messages to video chats,” Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson report for Bloomberg. “But while the companies may have thought that was the final word, in fact the government was working on a Plan B.”

Riley and Robertson report, “In a secret meeting convened by the White House around Thanksgiving, senior national security officials ordered agencies across the U.S. government to find ways to counter encryption software and gain access to the most heavily protected user data on the most secure consumer devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone, the marquee product of one of America’s most valuable companies, according to two people familiar with the decision.”

MacDailyNews Take: Make that “the world’s most valuable company,” thanks.

“The approach was formalized in a confidential National Security Council ‘decision memo,’ tasking government agencies with developing encryption workarounds, estimating additional budgets and identifying laws that may need to be changed,” Riley and Robertson report. “Details of the memo reveal that, in private, the government was honing a sharper edge to its relationship with Silicon Valley alongside more public signs of rapprochement.”

“On Tuesday, the public got its first glimpse of what those efforts may look like when a federal judge ordered Apple to create a special tool for the FBI to bypass security protections on an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the shooters in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people,” Riley and Robertson report. “The order was not a direct outcome of the memo but is in line with the broader government strategy. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice have the Obama administration’s ‘full’ support in the matter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The government is not your friend.

To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will. — Ronald Reagan

The choice is simple: Either everyone gets privacy and security or no one does.

DOJ escalates war against Apple, files new motion to compel company to break into iPhone – February 19, 2016
Libertarian U.S. presidential candidate John McAfee offers to unlock terrorist’s iPhone for FBI – February 19, 2016
Apple is still fighting Big Brother – February 19, 2016
Apple co-founder Woz: Steve Jobs would have fought this U.S. government overreach, too – February 19, 2016
Mother who lost son in San Bernardino terrorist attack sides with Apple against U.S. government backdoor demands – February 19, 2016
iPhones don’t kill people, people kill people – February 19, 2016
Court extends deadline for Apple to oppose order to unlock iPhone – February 19, 2016
Twitter, Facebook, Box support Apple against U.S. government demand to hack iPhone – February 19, 2016
No, Apple has NOT unlocked 70 iphones for law enforcement – February 18, 2016
Apple is right, the U.S. government demand would make us all less secure – February 18, 2016
How Apple will fight the DOJ in iPhone backdoor case: U.S. government’s position stands on 227 year old law – February 18, 2016
USA Today alters logo to support Apple in fight against U.S. government overreach – February 18, 2016
Obama administration claims FBI is not asking Apple for a ‘backdoor’ to the iPhone – February 18, 2016
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


    1. As I agree with the statement given by Ronald Reagan and consider him a great president, please shut up on your dumb comments always blaming Democrats or those who disagree with you.
      This has nothing to do with what political party or political ideals one follows, this is about privacy vs. national security interests.
      Democrat, Republican, conservative, or liberal, many agree that this is an invasion of privacy and possibly the beginning of government control.
      Whatever one thinks about government aid is irrelevant when it comes down to the real issue here – Fourth Amendment.

    2. The more the American people and government become controlled by demons the more you begin to resemble the U.K. All you lack is a reigning queen, oh wait sorry, never mind…

  1. The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help. — Ronald Reagan

    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. — Ronald Reagan

    1. Part of the problem, those rights were for a select portion of that society, not everyone… Just saying.

      We know where the moral ground is today, but back then it was completely different.

      We not only need to stand for what is right today, we need to be able to lean on our own shoulders than that of just our Founding Fathers.

      Just wait, someone will come along and take them away too.

      I would say some Americans and foreigners are willing and wanting to give/take away our rights.

      There are plenty of Americans who aren’t. They are willing to sacrifice themselves and their children for what they believe is just.

      1. “We know where the moral ground is today, but back then it was completely different.”

        It was most certainly NOT “completely different.” Rather, the generations since have respected, built upon and occasionally amended the foundation laid by the founding fathers. It has endured for well over two centuries, and as citizens we continue to expect our political system to conform to it and our legal system to reason from it.

        1. What is the same is trying to balance the rights of the people with the demands of government. I agree with you.

          What is different, the rights were not for everyone, particularly in the South. Today, the rights are given to all people. I think moral ground has shifted in a direction that is more respectable, but we have a more to go, but that’s what I mean by different.

  2. For some reason, this reminds me of the movie “V For Vendetta”….Show the public some type of world, and have them go to the government for complete control.
    I know it hasn’t come down to that, but having the government forcing private third parties to hack into people’s private property?! Dangerous as to what it might lead in the future. Though, I guess it might be a naive way of thinking because as soon as we allowed ourselves to go electronically and public, there is no privacy. Hell, you can say that as soon as people started writing down their thoughts. Seems if one wants privacy, it should be said in secret and orally as to not leave a trace.

  3. Love Judge Judy.

    This is a watershed moment for ALL governments around the world. Digital encryption enables privacy for all sorts of activities that people conduct including financial transactions such as peer-to-peer payments and Bitcoin. Imagine if governments had no way to track financial transactions and could not collect taxes.

    I am all for privacy but I can also see government fighting for its own survival and relevancy here. This really is a major story that may have major historical ramifications, if I can be so dramatic.

      1. Its clear that China’s government doesn’t care about privacy and regularly invades it at home and abroad. And its true that the US government invades privacy all the time at home and abroad, too. The degree to which they do this maybe different but probably not by as much as we’d all like to think. They have to do it.

        The point I’m making is that if digital encryption privacy wins this round and the government gets shutout, then what happens to other forms of encryption related to financial transactions? What happens if I can conduct my business completely invisible from the government? If the government can’t see what we are doing, then how do they maintain their authority, power and ability to do their job?

        Someone tried to argue with me that using TurboTax online in the cloud could expose my privacy to the government. Well, guess what, the government already has access to all this stuff including my W-2’s, 1099s, etc. and can audit me for much more. Employers and institutions are required to share that information with the government and have well established IT systems to keep track of it. Imagine if all that information disappeared and the government had to count on people being honest.

        I’m telling you, this is a real threat to any government’s ability to do its job. If you are a conservative that likes small government, then this is your chance. Oddly enough it would be at the expense of your hyper-literal interpretation of the Constitution. Such a strange juxtaposition.

    1. Ya.. Fbi is asking for open, unencrypted broadcast of all these information. It will actually be a channal on your tv… Put in an individual’s name and their life on their cellphones (pocket computers) will be broadcast to you 24-7…..
      It a far far far cry from it… But ofcourse not to those who are suffering from uber paranoia ..

      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 pocket computer )

      Where is the public paranoia about the above ? … ….

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

      Create 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 ……..

      All this ‘the world will be an insecure place if a court order will allow a phone to be unlocked’ .. Is pure paranoia and a PR game and a political ploy….

      Read the above again before u freak out.
      90% of wolds computers, specially in the business and government areas are and have been run on windows… Fyi. For decades.
      And you are worried about privacy … Worry about google first befor anyone else.

      That’s why i is loving this…. Is a major kick in googles jewels and huge publicity for apple.
      Ii may not agree with the underlaying paranoia going on… But i sure agree this is a brilliant PR move by apple.. Thumbs up to that!

      1. You had me thinking until you said…. “In the meanwhile apple is loving the Publicity ” which shows just where your mind is going.

        Legal process is one thing, but when the NSA starts coping anything and everything digital, in violation of the constitution and the white house supports it, then you have a big issue.
        PS, when they collect this stuff and bring it to court against you… who says its correct and valid. Digital change of info is EASY.

        Just saying.

        1. i hear your argument.. But the difference is that i think that paranoia and frenzy is way over the top…
          A little thing is not everything… There should be some balanced rational approach to matters at hand not panic and paranoia …..

          And yes .. Im sure apple is loving the publicity…
          What better than FBI coming out and saying to the world: Look these devices are so secure its impossible to break into them. Further strengthing One of Apples claims/slogans that our devices are the most secure in the world, android, forget Windows. That has been one of their main marketing themes from the begining..

          But now FBI… One of the most powerful agencies in the world is reinforcing that claim.
          What could be better Proof for what Apple claims.

  4. And in other news, the DOJ is going ofter hearing aid manufacturers to force them to include a transmitter to send any whispered messages the users hear directly to the NSA. The medical industry is also under scrutiny for not having created implants for children to eaves drop on conversations they may overhear in their lifetime.

    Republicans all across the nation are on the bandwagon and calling Democrats traitors for not supporting such a bill.

      1. Yes Silverhawk….. And i have lived in many countries throughout my life.. Not visited, But lived. (Visited a whole lot more)
        And i come from a mixed ethnic and cultural background. Not only in the sense of my heredity going back generations… But what i have been subject to in my upbringing and direct environmental/ geopolitical influences in my everyday life and also marriage.

        1. I too have traveled to many countries. I didn’t appreciate living in Vietnam but that’s another story. If the US DOJ or government wins this the old Domino Theory will come into play where privacy will be a long gone country by country. There will be a next Right and another Right gone. I’m glad I’m older.

          1. I respect your choice of your position .
            But i think this whole thing has turned into an irrational frenzy.. Way over the top ……
            Its not the end of the world…..and apple unlocking iphones through court orders will not lead to the end of the world.. And no i dont brlieve apple unlocking a phone is the same as having your phone interaction available on a public channel unencripted for all to dial into..(..Thats naiev and paranoid and heavily politicized.) …. Or the last few decades would have already ended the word.

            With the proper provisions….most can be made happy. …. But politics has a way of polorizing things .. No? ! Black or white.. No grey .

            As for the rest of my reasoning… Im sure u read it a few posts above…. And in many other posts if u followed them.

          1. How i wish u identified yourselves.. With proper ids.. And your perspective as to why the description of my background deseves a low star vote?. Not neutral.. Not indifferent but low star.
            Which part of it is offending u or making you feel uncomfortable. ….

            Interesting ha? 😉

            Its indeed telling … About you … Not me.
            Pathetic and sad.

            1. Yojimbo007, I’m here to give you support. Not because I necessarily agree with you. But because you clearly care enough about the matter to offer your perspective and to doggedly defend it, in the spirit of a “minority report” that might influence an otherwise kneejerk community opinion. I respect that.

            2. Herself, As always… Thanks..:)
              I truly dont have an issue with debates…arguing perspectives and position… After All everyone worthy/respectable learns from the process . One does not need to agree with something to learn from it…..
              But when people resort to insults, thats an indication of desperation and ignorance…..At that point conversation is a waste.
              And that is what the above implied.

              Thanks for your words again. …(delight to the soul)! 😉


            3. Herself… I have responded to your other post on the Tim thread …mdn is holding my respons in ‘awaiting modrtation’ for more than 24 hours now.
              Unreal …. And telling .

  5. My prediction is that Apple will lose this case, and by extension all of us lose, too. The courts are going to back DOJ and FBI because not doing so makes the government appear to be failure. Unfortunately, such a decision actualizes the government to be a failure. The great experiment that is the United States will have surrendered to fascism through fear. The freedoms enshrined by our founding fathers in the Constitution will no longer be valid at all: after all, if a person not possess his privacy, his control over self, he has absolutely nothing.

    1. On Morning Edition today, Sen. Angus King expressed some doubt as to the wisdom of the Obama administration’s position on this matter. He suggested that the courts are not the best way to resolve this question as there is no national discussion, just a bunch of lawyers. “Hard cases make bad law.” He is one of the few politicians that really seemed to understand the ramifications of forcing Apple to open up this phone, and that it would have significant ramifications everywhere.

    1. I’m sorry, Atos, but it’s unlikely that the US military would cancel their order simply because Microsoft made an anti-government statement. Government contracts don’t contain such clauses. It’s more plausible that Microsoft hasn’t spoken on the issue because they’re just a bunch of weasels.

    2. Microsoft wouldn’t put in a backdoor, because then their product would be suseptible to Trojans, viruses, and hacking, and the secure platform it already is.

      And in case it’s needed \s

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