Apple’s fight against U.S. government overreach could escalate with demand for ‘source code’

“The latest filing in the legal war between the planet’s most powerful government and its most valuable company gave one indication of how the high-stakes confrontation could escalate even further,” Joseph Menn reports for Reuters.

“In what observers of the case called a carefully calibrated threat, the U.S. Justice Department last week suggested that it would be willing to demand that Apple turn over the ‘source code’ that underlies its products as well as the so-called ‘signing key’ that validates software as coming from Apple,” Menn reports. “Together, those two things would give the government the power to develop its own spying software and trick any iPhone into installing it. Eventually, anyone using an Apple device would be unable to tell whether they were using the real thing or a version that had been altered by officials to be used as a spy tool.”

“Technology and security experts said that if the U.S. government was able to obtain Apple’s source code with a conventional court order, other governments would demand equal rights to do the same thing,” Menn reports. “‘We think that would be pretty terrible,’ said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The DOJ and the FBI have officially gone batshit insane.

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


  1. And that folks is known as fascist government. When a government can take away a company’s crown jewels, the government then owns the company.

  2. I think they’re bluffing, and this is to look tough. Not acceptable. In fact, that’s arguably an ethical violation itself, in a court filing.

    This is the Donald Trump style of public rhetoric: say such crazy things that people can’t tell if you’re lying, really mean it, or just don’t even know yourself.

      1. No they are not bluffing. It’s the next logical step in their argument that Apple is putting itself above the needs of the state. Of course Apple will fight this and hard, but then the FBI/DOJ will shout “unAmerican!”
        It’s transparently obvious now, their pursuit of Apple is solely based on the “fear” card.

  3. Is the FBI really the bunch of feckless, impotent twits this whole episode suggests? They’re destroying whatever good working relationship they may have had with Apple just to gain some power that won’t last or be helpful. There are encryption products from a number of sources, most of which they cannot control, that bad actors can use to mask their actions. Get into the real world, FBI, and do your actual jobs.

  4. I makes you wonder about how they are going to demand it. Maybe Tim Cook will win a trip to Guantanamo Resort on the Bay for an intimate request session, or maybe a violent beating in full public view, say at the feet of the statue of liberty, you know to send a message to the free and civilized world to watch out cause we are next.

    Then again there is always prying the code from cold dead hands.

    I wonder what the betting odds will be at Las Vegas.

    Great take MDN, but don’t be so modest, an amazing apart of your nation is in that condition, has been for a while, but it’s good to see that people from there are finally noticing. A bit late but good nonetheless.

    1. UNIX is closed. iOS was originally based on NextStep, which is a variant of UNIX, but is not open source either. You are thinking of Linux, which is also a variant of UNIX.

      1. While Linux is Unix-like, it’s neither a fork of Unix nor derived from it. Linus Torvalds developed it from MINIX (but not including an MINIX code in the kernel), using the GNU C compiler.

      2. OS X is clearly and officially a Unix version; officially licensed (from the Open Group) Unix operating systems (and their vendors) include OS X (Apple), Solaris (Oracle), AIX (IBM), IRIX (SGI), and HP-UX (Hewlett-Packard). It’s arguable that iOS is a fork of OS X.

        Linux, and various ports of BSD-ness (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc.) are Unix-like, but not Unices.

  5. This is MY government in self-destruct mode:

    Eventually, anyone using an Apple device would be unable to tell whether they were using the real thing or a version that had been altered by officials to be used as a spy tool.

    Meaning that there would be NO hope of We The People trusting our own government ever again. That’s not going to work.

    This is a sickness.

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