In Republican debate, candidates back U.S. government over Apple

During Thursday’s GOP debate, “CNN’s Dana Bash asked about the court order the FBI recently obtained demanding that Apple help the government hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone. The candidates’ consensus: Apple needs to comply,” Issie Lapowsky reports for Wired.

“Rubio, who has sought to align himself with the tech industry throughout this race, said that the government is not asking Apple to unlock the phone itself or ‘create a backdoor.’ Instead, he said, it’s asking Apple to help disable the auto-erase function, which erases data from the phone after ten failed password attempts, so the FBI can break into the phone on its own,” Lapowsky reports. “‘They are not asking Apple to create a backdoor to encryption,’ Rubio said, adding later, ‘Apple doesn’t want to do it, because they think it hurts their brand.'”

“Cruz tried to position himself as even more consistent on the issue than Rubio has been. ‘The order is not: put a backdoor in everyone’s cell phone. If that was the order, that order would be problematic, because it would compromise security and safety for everyone,’ he said. ‘But on the question of unlocking this cell phone of a terrorist, we should enforce the court order,'” Lapowsky reports. “Carson agreed, arguing that Apple’s resistance would create ‘chaos in the system.’ And John Kasich went so far as to say President Obama should convene Apple and the US security forces, ‘lock the door, and say you’re not coming out until you reach an agreement that gives the security people what they need and protects the rights of Americans.'”

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.

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

The San Bernardino Case

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

The Threat to Data Security

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

A Dangerous Precedent

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Tim Cook, February 16, 2016

Source: Apple Inc.

SEE ALSO:
Donald Trump calls for Apple boycott over San Bernardino terrorist iPhone encryption – February 19, 2016
Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone – February 17, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Obama administration wants access to smartphones – December 15, 2015
Hillary Clinton wants a ‘Manhattan Project’ to cure encryption; Snowden, Andreessen mock – December 21, 2015
Obama administration’s calls for backdoors into encrypted communications echo Clinton-era key escrow fiasco – December 14, 2015
Eric Schmidt-backed startup stealthily working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 9, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015

62 Comments

  1. What do you expect from a bunch of politicians who have the same level of knowledge of technology as my dog.

    Of course these politicians support government over Apple. Hell, these politicians are government.

      1. Wrong! Only Rubio and Trump are the empty headed-ones. Cruz qualifies his support for the FBI and agrees that, broadly speaking, Apple is in the right. #ChooseCruz, #dumptrump and #don’ttrustruberubio, #rubiowillrobyou #gotedcruz #votetedcruz #ivoteted

  2. Remember the government has historically and constantly been on the path of taking away liberty for the sake of security. Read some of Judge Napolitano’s books. He cites case law. When the B-29 crashed into the Empire State building…the government cited National Security so it would not have to provide evidence to the folks suing the DoD. This is an old bipartisan tactic to take away privacy.

    1. I agree, except my take is that government has historically and constantly been on the path of acquiring power for power’s sake for those directly involved in the governmental processes (which, consequently, does involve taking away citizens liberty) for the sake of the state’s security.

    2. Well, since you brought up the Judge I am surprised you did not bring up his reasoning why the govt is wrong in this case. I agree 100% with Rubio, however, and I am sure it’s because this is a complicated issue that most people miss this. The Judge explained it this way:

      A warrant is a request for something that exists. The method to get around the 10 try limit does not exist. Even though it would take a minute to create it, the warrant can not force someone to create something that does not exist (that is involuntary servitude). Sure, the data that the govt wants exists and the government has it. They just can’t read it. To read it, Apple has to create it (it does not take a team of engineers and a month, BTW).

      Since this kind of thing is unprecedented and various entities have their agendas, it will take a court to address this and weigh all the facts and laws.

  3. Regarding: “But on the question of unlocking this cell phone of a terrorist, we should enforce the court order’”

    Sorry but this was not an act of terrorism but the act of a government employee going postal over arguments with other workers over religion.

      1. This is not only my opinion but the opinion of a lawyer who is involved in terrorist acts. He was involved in the twin tower terrorist act and is currently involved in the Paris attacks. He characterized the attack not as terrorism but the result of two religious nuts arguing over their respective religions.

        And yes I did look up the definition of terrorism before I posted – there was no political aim here but only the wish to kill his fellow workers who made fun of his religion and his beard.

          1. Ok. What part of this is pertinent. This was not meant to influence or affect the conduct of government but to kill fellow workers who he had disagreements with regarding religion.

            18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:
            Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
            Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

            Seems more like a hate crime IMHO:
            A hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime) is a prejudice-motivated crime, often violent, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group. Examples of such groups can include but are not limited to: ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.[1][2][3] Non-criminal actions that are motivated by these reasons are often called “bias incidents”.

            BTW – Insurance companies love to have the government declare these things as terrorist attacks because since 911 insurance will not cover them.

            1. you focus ONLY on a political aspect of Terror.
              that is where you fail.

              Again, you should have read a little more in the article I posted. (and learn how to read law btw…you skipped over the pertinent part and quoted your political argument)

              Terror is not always political.

            2. Regarding: “you skipped over the pertinent part and quoted your political argument”

              Ok, would you kindly show me what I skipped over in the article?

            3. Those are not AND this, AND this, AND this=terrorism

              Learn to read law. it’s written as more OR this, OR this, OR this.

              “Terrorism is usually understood as a type of violence. This violence is not blind or sadistic, but rather aims at intimidation and at some further political, social, or religious goal or, more broadly, at coercion.”

              wow, when you actually read, you learn shit.

              POLITICAL terrorism is just one aspect of terrorism.

            4. You directed me to two web sites – the federal government web site and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy web site. Which website did your quote come from?

            5. You are right I did skip the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy web site and read the federal one because I was calling into question a remark made by a candidate for a federal office. While the discussion on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy might be interesting IMHO it probably won’t be a reference point by the lawyers of either side in this case against Apple.

        1. Wikipedia is so nice to get a starting perspective. Look up “terrorism”, then {inert loser country here} and state terrorism, along with {inert loser country here} state-sponsored terrorism with a serving of domestic terrorism in {insert loser country here}.

          Then after all that, educate yourself on the first and real 9-11, that happened in 1973. That should help scrape enough of the lipstick off so you maybe, maybe realize and recognize the pig.

    1. I understand your POV grwisher. The distinguishing point here is that Daesh (the insulting alternative to ISIL or ISIS) had nothing to do with it. The guy and gal went ‘postal’ in imitation of the Daesh dopes’ derangement. It’s still a ‘terrorist’ act because of intent and effect.

      There have been, sadly, a lot more questionable applications of the word ‘terrorist’ in recent years. If a person goes postal over corporation practices and breaks into their property to free a bunny being used to test cosmetic products, that’s called ‘terrorism’ as well. Corporatocracy at work. (0_o)

      1. “breaks into their property to free a bunny being used to test cosmetic products”

        I would agree because that act would have a political aim but there was not political aim in the San Bernardino case. Terrorism – the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

        BTW – the Jewish government employee who he had frequent arguments with received a death threat the day before.

        1. I would agree because that act would have a political aim

          No it would not! The act has nothing-at-all to do with politics. It’s a person’s act of conscience, which has nothing-at-all to do with defying any government. Breaking and entering and stealing property at a company has nothing to with politics except in someone’s imagination. It is a blatant abuse of the term ‘terrorism’. It has no legal or sane justification. The intent is entirely toward the company. The only way a company can call ‘Terrorist! Terrorist!’ is if we live in a corporatocracy.

          1. Ok I will have to agree with you on this one. I was going by the dictionary definition on my Mac. Backlash had me read the governments definition which says the act has to try to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct. Your bunny example does not do this and therefore you are right that it should not be classified as terrorism. The company would be smart not to classify this act as terrorism because insurance no longer covers terrorist acts.

            18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:
            Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
            Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

            1. insurance no longer covers terrorist acts

              Really?! Fascinating. So the definition of ‘terrorist’ changes because of $money$ concerns. How nuts is that?

              Excellent research. I bow to your superior skills. TY!

  4. This is from the party that says “less government.” Hmmm. Can’t imagine much more of a big government invasion than having access to our personal data at any time. Grant this one little wedge, and the door will open wide, very very quickly!

    1. You know the Republican party has always been for less government except in a few places, such as your bedroom and your doctor’s office, where they have been happy to proscribe what your behavior should be.

      1. Correct, Democrats just want to intrude in other areas of your life. More complete coverage, as it were.

        As for welfare-suckers, there’s more than enough on the other side, too.

        Are we having fun yet?

        1. I think it’s safe to say that a large percentage of long-term welfare recipients are completely disengaged politically.

          In his special way, I think breeze is poking at the enormous hypocrisy of republicans who lobby for and receive enormous benefits from the fed while constantly badmouthing the fed at every turn. It is a fact that, on average, rural red districts receive greater benefits per person than urban blue voting districts.

          Remember, long-term welfare (as defined by reasonable adults) is actually a relatively small percentage of the budget. The much bigger item are medical assistance programs (championed by elderly of both political parties, but only braindead republicans post signs saying “keep government out of my medicare”). That being said, for the last 30 years we have heard republican candidates campaign on increased defense and slashed medical programs, but they never follow through. GWB in fact used unprecedented deficit spending on military AND passed Medicare Part D, the greatest expansion to healthcare before Obama attempted to reform the system (in a way that, according to the CBO, will actually save a little money in the long run). The republican hypocrisy just never ends.

          Democrats have been very open about demanding that more emphasis on the budget be allocated to domestic spending rather than overseas adventures. Republicans are the hypocrites who add insane amounts of military spending while doing absolutely nothing to offset their pet project costs in any way — with the possible exception of blocking much-needed spending for veterans healthcare.

          The answer is not to elect a monarchist like Trump who has no experience or plans to govern. That would be a disaster for the nation and for Apple.

          Bernie for president.

        2. Don’t let them get under your skin, steveH. They’re just quietly foaming at the mouth over this whole issue because it is Obama and his administration who are demanding this of Apple. Of course liberals such as Sparkles and breeze simply can’t understand how their “perfect” leader could actually bring about this situation, so they remain in denial and continue to blame the Republicans in order to attempt to deflect criticism of the current administration.

          Here’s the truth that gets almost everybody angry: Obama, Trump, and most of the established elected Senators and Representatives HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION ON THIS ISSUE. That is, they knowingly lie by stating that the FBI wants to unlock “only one phone” while full well knowing that they (the FBI via the Obama administration; it would be the same if, say, Bush were still in office) are asking for a master key to unlock ALL iPhones.

          Please stop trying to make this a political issue. We should all be alarmed that the majority of our so-called leaders of both major parties are willing to ignore the majority opinion of Americans on this issue.

    1. We’re not talking about Obama. We’re talking about candidates for the next president.

      The three leading talking head republicans are completely unqualified to lead the nation. If that isn’t plainly obvious even to the most ardent extreme rightie, I have grave doubts that the USA will be more than a pimple on China’s ass in the next century. Bluff and bluster are no match for serious strategy, constitutional adherence, and the big one: FISCAL DISCIPLINE.

      Bernie Sanders is more logical and responsible than the idiots we heard last night.

        1. Bernie Sanders is pragmatic and is assessing the issue before shooting off his mouth like the republicans.

          “There has got to be a balance,” Bernie Sanders said. “But count me in as someone who is a very strong civil libertarian who believes we can fight terrorism without undermining our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.”

          Ironic that someone who has endured the label-based fearmongering from the republican machine is actually the most protective of civil liberties for the citizens. The libertarian and moderate wings of the republican party need to rethink their allegiances.

  5. I’m a Conservative, and I don’t understand why they all support the big government position on the issue. Goes against Conservative principles.

    Didn’t watch the debate, but reading the article here.. it does seem that they all are listening to the press and NOT the actual facts.

    “Cruz tried to position himself as even more consistent on the issue than Rubio has been. ‘The order is not: put a backdoor in everyone’s cell phone. If that was the order, that order would be problematic, because it would compromise security and safety for everyone”

    Cruz gets it in this quote when he says it would compromise security for everyone, but then shows he doesn’t have the facts by saying thats *not the order*… but it IS…

    And don’t claim bernie or hillary is better on the subject cause although bernie said he would be worried about big brother, duh, but he agreed with hillary about Apple and the FBI working out a compromise.

    ALL candidates on both sides are ALL wrong. There is some waffling out there by most of them, but they are all wrong. There is NO compromise that is acceptable. Apple is right, FBI is wrong.

    The more Apple fights this the better. But Apple *really* needs to work on the PR aspect of this.

    Every person that I have heard around me bashing Apple in this, I have taken the time to show them a few articles on the timeline and facts of the issue.. every one of them changed their mind once they saw the facts and what the FBI is actually trying to do. The media has once again twisted the story.

    1. It’s been a long time since conservatives were conservative. Sometime after Reagan left (perhaps even during that time), they moved to dog-whistle politics. Coded racism (thanks Lee Atwater), inflammatory media (thanks Fatbaugh), religious oppression expressed as religious freedom (thanks Hobby Lobby). Don’t forget a total cave-in to big money (thanks Citizens United) and raping of the land on behalf of the extractive industry (I remember when conservatism and conservation went hand in hand).

      I genuinely miss true conservatism. I miss the well-crafted arguments of Bill Buckley. Even when I disagreed with him, I found that my own thoughts were improved and modified. I miss the days when strong disagreement still occurred inside a mainly civil discourse. I am truly sorry to see both major parties chasing dollars as the only way to be heard above the noise they generate. But these days, politicians sound like middle-school kids. Words like ‘socialist’ and ‘knuckle-dragger’ have taken the place of grown-up problem solving.

      1. Agreed, Mikey. Twenty years ago, the Republican debates we’ve witnessed so far would have been SNL skits. It is horrifying that name-calling and lying we get from the GOP front-runners actually finds supporters in America.

        Altho I am not sure they contain better content, at least the Democratic debates are conducted with civility and attempt to address real issues, not just hot-buttons for the extremists in the electorate.

      2. I’d say it goes back even further to Barry Goldwater and the type of political PR the Democrats (and LBJ) pulled that cost him the election. Goldwater was not the man they portrayed him to be.

      1. nope, never read the NY Times.

        There are articles defending Apple’s stance.. thats the ones i refer the Apple bashers to.. but many of them are just reporting wrongly that Apple is refusing the unlock THIS ONE PHONE.
        Most do not mention the fact the FBI ordered the password to be changed, which is key to the argument.

  6. I don’t know if the candidates were acting dumb to look tough on terrorism or if they are just dumb. Obviously, it’s not about just one phone. The same order can be repeated over and over in other cases by other courts. The attacks on Apple really piss me off.

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