How Apple realized it was at war with the FBI: The DOJ was poised to launch PR campaign designed to pull the public’s heartstrings

“It took just a few hours for the Justice Dept. to gauge how its legal action against Apple would be perceived by the public,” Zack Whittaker reports for ZDNet. “Not long after a California court released an order compelling Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, there was an outpouring of support in Apple’s favor, and little compassion for the government’s case.”

“Within hours of reading headlines with words like “backdoor,” Apple responded to the growing public empathy with a letter on its website stating that the company will ‘oppose this order,'” Whittaker reports. “But in the days running up to the judge signing the court order, the Justice Dept. had ‘stacked the deck’ against the iPhone maker, according to a person with direct knowledge of the case.”

“It was a move to thrust the long-standing debate over encryption between tech companies and law enforcement into the public eye — one that the government reportedly ended up regretting,” Whittaker reports. “With the Justice Dept. pushing for an unprecedented kind of order, the government was poised to launch a public relations campaign, said a source, in an effort to pull at the public heartstrings of those who suffered as a result of the shootings… The Justice Dept. wanted to draw outrage, painting Apple as the criminal.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Looks like the current administrations transparent and despicable attempt to “never let a serious crisis go to waste,” has stirred up a hornet’s nest of righteous and informed opposition.

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

Richard Clarke: U.S. government more interested in setting legal precedent than solving the problem of one iPhone – March 15, 2016
Obama criticized for ‘tone deaf’ comments at SXSW regarding Apple’s fight against government overreach – March 14, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
John Oliver just smartly explained Apple’s fight against U.S. government overreach – March 14, 2016
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa at SXSW: ‘Hold your iPhone a little bit higher, so the FBI can hear us better’ – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
U.S. government takes cheap shots at Apple – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
Apple: The law already exists that protects us from U.S. government demands to hack iPhone – February 26, 2016
Apple said to be prepping iOS version that even it can’t hack – February 25, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013


  1. When you go to battle against the pros like Apple, you better have more than a bucket of bullshit at your side.

    When I start to feel that government will win this battle against its citizens I just remember that even with all their power, government tends to be incompetent. That will be their undoing.

    1. Thats what have been thinking. The bullshit the DOJ/FBI has been getting away with is beyond belief.

      It’s only about one iPhone.
      BS. There are already dozens of others lined up by the DOJ and hundreds more from other law enforcement agencies, just waiting for this precedent to be set.

      The iPhone might contain a dormant cyber pathogen.
      BS. No such thing exists.

      The iPhone has vital information needed for the investigation.
      Not likely. The terrorist(s) destroyed their personal phones but left the employers phone in plain sight. They obviously didn’t care if the FBI found it.

      Apple has helped the Chinese government with 4000 requests for help, producing data 74% of the time, why can’t they help the FBI this time?
      The DOJ/FBI is implying that Apple has already helped China with similar backdoors. But if China has a backdoor already, why are they requesting help from Apple?

      Also, Apple has disputed these numbers as thinly sourced and essentially BS.
      Even if they are true, 26% of the time Apple could not provide data. Therefore it is likely, they have done nothing but use the same techniques as previously used to help the FBI. Eg. iCloud backups.

      There is little burden on Apple to create a new version of iOS with weakened security.
      Maybe initially for one phone. But a precedent will be set. The FBI says that Apple can destroy the code. Quite frankly that is rubbish. As dozens more court orders for iPhone iOS ‘backdoors’ are made, Apple will need to keep the code to reduce costs. They will have to maintain it and document it. A whole new department of engineers, documenters and lawyers will be needed.
      Not to mention the enormous security risks to peoples privacy.

      A similar case involving a drug dealer was denied. The DOJ/FBI carefully chose this case because they know that anything that has the word terrorist involved, will automatically throw the American people into a wild panic. It is also apparent that most of the FBI/DOJ claims are half truths, falsities and bordering on ridiculous. This is the very definition of propaganda.

  2. There is no doubt that the FBI is using this case for the sole purpose of setting a massive precedent. “Just this one phone, just this one time” is a perfect tag line to use to get the public opinion on their side, because, “think of the children”…

    There is nothing of value on this phone. There is nothing to investigate here: the perpetrators are known, they are dead, there is no additional justice, or closure, to be had for the community that was affected. There is just a hypothetical possibility that, after wiping their entire digital trail clean before committing this atrocity, the perpetrators neglected to delete just this one device. The likelihood of that is virtually non-existent, but the case is a perfect precedent-setting vehicle.

    Having said it all, one has to try and think about what your President had said the other day. It is clear that he took his time making up his mind about it since it is not so easy to make up one’s mind about it. Obviously, America can’t do it; half of the population is firmly on the side of the government in their belief that some sort of ability to access private data must be possible for the government, against pedophiles, criminals and terrorists. But what the US President said was, in all fairness, quite a possible, likely scenario. Let us say, Apple wins; encryption wins. Then, a major terrorist event unfolds, somewhere in the developed world (not necessarily in the US), and before any investigation even determines the sequence of events, some cheap rag, such as the New York Post (or Daily News) reports that the encryption allowed the terrorists to communicate freely. The knee-jerk reaction of the American public (and the congress) will be significantly worse than the Patriot Act. What Apple won would essentially be wiped out completely. It is this possible knee-jerk reaction that makes the outcome of Apple win less than ideal. The level of support for Apple’s position would rapidly erode after such an event, even if it weren’t on the American soil.

    I certainly hope that Apple wins this battle, but it is quite likely that a much worse battle is looming, and that one, it will be almost impossible for Apple to win, especially if they win this one.

    1. Hopefully, a strong win by Apple will set enough precedent to make those knee jerk reactions impossible.

      Secondly, I hope that this was enough of a wake up call for the citizens to take notice of what’s going on and be more active and vocal and make better decisions when electing people to represent us. I see a lot of people here on MDN are very loyal to their political parties but maybe it’s time to look at politicians where they stand rather than just going with politicians based on their party affiliations.

  3. MDN, so where’s your outrage over employers (which includes the government healthcare system) wanting to track your activity through the day using an Apple Watch? Reward those that do as the corporation or government says and penalize those who live the way they want to live?

    One of the standards is 10,000 steps a day which equates to about 5 miles!

    1. Not quite the same. Not by a light-year.

      An insurance company is in the business of assessing and mitigating risk. The more accurately they can asses risk, the more precisely they can monetize it. Offering incentives to their clients in order to improve this risk assessment makes financial sense for both the business and the client. It allows for more precise risk assessment (by better knowing the health condition of the client, which directly impacts the risk), and it lowers the expense for the coverage to the client. However, this relationship is completely voluntary. If you don’t want to share personal information, you don’t have to; you can continue to pay standard premium, you can continue to leave your insurance provider in the dark with respect to your health status, and nobody will ever know how much (or how little) you walk, run or climb stairs on any given day.

  4. “The Justice Dept. wanted to draw outrage, painting Apple as the criminal.”

    Isn’t painting Apple as the criminal called libel? That would land me or you in jail, but it is okay for the DOJ?! Kinda like spending trillions of dollars we don’t have. Why are we letting our government get by with this?!

  5. And, IT NEVER had any bearing on the FBI’s ability to ‘crack’ Apple’s code. This was a THE GRAND PLAN to crack ALL the US-Based tech company encryption and it bit them (US DOJ) square in the nuts… WWWWHHHHAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa….

  6. The worrying aspect about this case is that the FBI believed at every turn that they were handling it the best way possible, even though most of us here could see that they were going about it in the wrong way.

    You would think that there must be somebody within the FBI who has some idea about how Apple operates and how it holds it’s principles dear. When the FBI decided to embark on a course of action that was supposed to force Apple to disregard it’s principles, there could have been no doubt that Apple would stand its ground and do so with as much determination as it possibly can. Maybe the FBI simply don’t understand the concept of having principles?

    The FBI have now created an almighty mess and still seem to be playing double or quits. Apple has no choice other than to push back in every way possible.

    The second most worrying aspect is that most politicians are publicly taking sides with the FBI and totally disregarding expert advice from the tech industry about just how important effective encryption is in modern society and how there is no possible way to create a back door that only the good guys can use. Going against the advice of experts is rarely a wise strategy.

    1. Wall Street, Costco, Google, Samsung and Microsoft do not understand, what makes you think the Government any Government or the average business man (Trump) would.

  7. This reminds me of those lawsuits that try to sue Apple for a couple hundred bucks over the “iPhone tracking” issue. Because Apple lost that lawsuit, the lawyer was “confident” that they could continue to sue Apple over and over again, getting more money for the same or deal or what have you.

    Now the US government is trying to do that same tactic. If they can get around the iPhone encryption “this one time,” I can guarantee you they’ll try to do it again and again if they succeed.

    Apple needs to put their foot down. Hard.

  8. This just keeps getting uglier and uglier. It’s not surprising. I keep getting reminded of a two part Star Trek episode, “Chain of Command” that involves torture of the main character Captain Jean Luc Picard by an alien commander who brings his daughter to watch the results.

    I found this quote very powerful: “When children learn to devalue others… they can devalue anyone. Even their parents.”

    It is playing out here now, when a government learns to devalue others…they can devalue anyone, even their own citizens.

    It’s happened before and it certainly looks like it is happening now.

    I hope Apple fights this tooth and nail, but I’d also recommend having the bags packed.

  9. Because of Apple, 2016 will not be like ‘1984. The quality and quantity of evidence to support Apple and the individuals freedom is very reassuring to more and more people every passing day. The people are now becoming more and more educated and aware that Apple can be trusted with our security and freedom. Freedom trumps fascism, police state. FBI Dictator Comey, so devious, deceiful and evil—a traitor to the country and the people and future generations in America and the world. In Apple’s ‘1984’ Super Bowl ad from 1984 introducing the original Apple MacIntosh computer from 1984 we are now at the point in the ad where the hammer is smashing into the giant image of Big Brother. Such a brilliant, prophetic and powerful ad. Play it again!

    ‘Steve Jobs presenting the first Mac in 1984’ is also a very interesting youtube video. Mindboggling how far the technolgy has come!

  10. Immediately fire the head of the FBI and the Attorney General, and underlings involved in the case. They have disqualified themselves from their jobs. And the President, too.

    The FBI reports to the AG, who reports to the President. They are all playing fast and loose with our fundamental constitutional rights. It is shameful.

  11. Obama is a tyrant. This is what tyrants do. Same strategy it used to build case against the right to own guns, after Obama had used his DOJ to arm Mexican drug cartels so they would kill people and the deaths could be used to build sympathy for gun control. Many died from the guns Obama and Holder gave to drug cartels. Democrats don’t care about a few dead, as in Benghazi, as long as the omelette is made to their liking.

      1. Oh, like the Nazis (reportedly) faking out the German populace by blaming communists for burning down the Reichstag. I don’t think the scapegoat would be communists in such a case. Muslim extremists are the current fashion. I refer back to 9/11 when the GW Bush administration botched their invented list of Muslim extremists flying the planes aimed at various US targets. Oops. It would be amusing if the Obama administration was correspondingly lazy in the confabulations.

  12. If the DOJ logic is that nobody should have secure communications because terrorists might use them then I suppose nobody should be able to buy guns, because guns might be used by terrorists.

    If the DOJ logic is that they have an inherent right to know everything about you with a search warrant, then they should be able to force priests to detail confessions, doctors to violate patient confidentiality, and journalists to reveal sources.

    If the DOJ logic is that they can force a company to make a surveillance product they do not wish to manufacture, then start assuming that the OnStar in your vehicle, your home security system, your Amazon Echo, your Samsung smart fridge, your Apple TV, Apple Watch, phone, smart lighting system, and more are all currently recording everything you do or say in the confines of your own home.

    I’m sure the Chinese will really enjoy the latter. Imagine what happens once they start tapping into the bedroom conversation and activities of American defense contractors, Pentagon employees, high-tech employees and more!

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