Apple’s fight with U.S. could speed development of devices impervious to government intrusion

“The legal showdown between Apple Inc and U.S. law enforcement over encryption, no matter the outcome, will likely accelerate tech company efforts to engineer safeguards against government intrusion, tech industry executives say,” Joseph Menn and Julia Love report for Reuters.

“An Apple executive said the company will strengthen its encryption if it wins its court battle with the federal government, which last week secured a court order requiring Apple engineers to help extract data from a phone associated with the mass shootings in San Bernardino,” Menn and Love report. “The executive spoke on condition of anonymity. ”

“If Apple loses the court case, the legal precedent could give the U.S. government broad authority to order companies to assist in breaking into encrypted products,” Menn and Love report. “But even a government victory could have unintended consequences for law enforcement, potentially prompting a wave of investment by U.S. tech companies in security systems that even their own engineers can’t access, said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. ‘A success for the government in this case may further spur Apple and others to develop devices that the makers aren’t privileged to crack,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, either way, this is going to blow up in the U.S. government’s collective face, as it well should.

To set a stronger alphanumeric passcode on your iOS device that cannot be easily brute-forced:

1. Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. On devices without Touch ID, go to Settings > Passcode
2. Tap Change Passcode
3. Tap Passcode Options to switch to a custom alphanumeric code
4. Enter your new, stronger passcode again to confirm it and activate it

Apple to argue that FBI court order violates its free-speech rights – February 24, 2016
Apple, the U.S. government, and security – February 24, 2016
Congressman Ted Lieu asks FBI to drop demand that Apple hack iPhones – February 23, 2016
In the fight to hack iPhones, the U.S. government has more to lose than Apple – February 23, 2016
Here are the 12 other cases where the U.S. government has demanded Apple help it hack into iPhones – February 23, 2016
John McAfee blasts FBI for ‘illiterate’ order to create Apple iPhone backdoor – February 23, 2016
Some family members of San Bernardino victims back U.S. government – February 23, 2016
Apple supporters to rally worldwide today against U.S. government demand to unlock iPhone – February 23, 2016
U.S. government seeks to force Apple to extract data from a dozen more iPhones – February 23, 2016
Apple CEO Cook: They’d have to cart us out in a box before we’d create a backdoor – February 22, 2016
Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees: ‘This case is about more than a single phone’ – February 22, 2016
Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone – February 17, 2016


  1. If the response to these FBI demands was that tech companies adopted security measures with no known way to crack them, the obvious response from the government might be to try and outlaw such devices.

    Obviously any government proposing that sort of thing would attract a great deal of hostile publicity accusing them of wanting to snoop into every aspect of people’s lives, but some politicians might feel that the price is worth paying and that they could ride out the storm.

    I find myself wondering just how far the government might be prepared to push this? You can be fairly certain that they won’t say too much about it prior to an election, but they might decide to act very rapidly once they gain power – whichever side wins.

    1. The Patriot Act is an affront to democracy, and is a veiled version of a very mild form of martial law. This has drawn much deserved contempt and suspicion. There’s been yet another loss of faith of government’s motives and actions. To some, more than others.

      Mass surveillance by brute force decryption is just not possible. Targeted surveillance is. I suspect that laws will be enacted as to how encryption gets to be legally used, and how law enforcement can access that information. I do believe that it can be done in a way that preserves democracy. This will happen in some form or another.

    2. Although we had that debate already, in the 1990’s, when the government tried to mandate the use of the Clipper Chip, which had a built in backdoor.

      The people stayed away in droves, and the government finally gave up.

  2. The reason for mass encryption is the misuse of mass surveillance.
    France has among the most aggressive surveillance laws in the Western world. The recent terrorist attacks still occurred. Perhaps rampant rights-trampling mass surveillance isn’t the solution?

    1. Rampant right-trampling is classic totalitarianism. It is therefore a FAILure of governance. This is #MyStupidGovernment falling flat on its face in its failure to defend the rights of its citizens. Instead, it is hell bent on a bad philosophy that flies in the face of actual LAW and human rights.

      As we corrupt our governance system and go totalitarian, the terrorists WIN. It really is that simple. Wake up.

  3. It looks to me like the law is on the side of the FBI. This is going to be a hard row to hoe on the part of Apple. The real question is: Do we want our government to have that kind of power? The particulars of this case do not bother me because the request from the FBI is so narrow. However, I am deeply concerned that if Apple is forced to comply then the precedent will be set for other nations to require Apple to do the same thing, possibly in violation of human rights. It is very complex—the world usually is. The United States is still the greatest nation on Earth.

  4. This is one of the scariest things ever since this issued reared it’s ugly head:

    Chris Wysopal, cofounder and chief technology officer of software security company Veracode. “People will go out of the country, and there will be a market.”

    Now it looks innocent enough until you realize that Mr. Wysopal is not talking about normal regular people, but people of a particular nation and you know that usually when people from that country go out of that country it’s usually to bomb, kill, gather clients for their Guantanamo on the Bay resort, commit war crimes, crimes against humanity you get the idea.

    Of course it’s too early to panic maybe they’ll build a wall around their country to keep their people in but stock up on extra food and water just in case.

    1. I think that what Wysopal means is that people with requirements for great security will choose tech solutions that are not American. Only that way will the customer have any confidence that there is no sneaky FBI back door.

      The FBI won’t be able to demand co-operation from foreign companies in the way that it tries to with U.S. companies. Therefore their job is likely to become harder and that will have happened because of a reaction to their over-reach.

      1. Spot on alanaudio, thanks for making that post. I think that if there are companies outside of the FBI’s jurisdiction that proceed this way they will still be attempts to coerce them, after all Snowden only revealed part of what’s going on and since then I’m sure they have made all attempts possible to spy on as much of the world as possible.

        Again thanks for the post a lot of folks are making some great points at the forum over the last week and MDN has been great posting the different aspects of what should be a non issue.

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