FBI vs. Apple isn’t over; Fourth Amendment issues remain

“The FBI and Apple reached a cease-fire last week, but it can’t last, because it leaves unresolved the future of reasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment,” Louis Gordon Crovitz writes for The Wall Street Journal. “It would be a public service if both sides started making their arguments forthrightly.”

“Apple should also stop conflating the broader issue of encryption with helping unlock a single iPhone,” Crovitz writes. “Timothy Lee summarized the difference on Vox: ‘The fact that we don’t know how to make an encryption algorithm that can be compromised only by law enforcement doesn’t imply that we don’t know how to make a technology product that can be unlocked only by law enforcement.'”

Crovitz writes, “Thus the first round of FBI vs. Apple has handed the key question to Congress: Either the Fourth Amendment permits reasonable, warranted searches in the digital era or Internet companies can design systems to defeat court orders, putting themselves — and criminals, including terrorists — above the law.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Define “law enforcement” and then tell us how this magic unlock solution stays only with “law enforcement” instead of leaking to other governments and criminals the world over.

Hello, Louie? Mr. Naiveté, Hello?


  1. The question that should be asked of these people is “should Vladimir Putin, or Bashar al-Assad, be able to issue a warrant to force Apple to decrypt an American’s electronic communications?”

    Because that’s where we’d end up if we allow back-doors in encryption for “law enforcement”.

  2. This [dead] suspect destroyed other phone(s) but not this one. The FBI is just using this situation. To gain a higger advantage. There is no way Apple should assist and iPhone owners all should stand beside [nit behind] Apple. If the FBI get their way, your data, on an iPhone will never be safe.

  3. This looks like a cut and paste with haste job of some of the ideas that have already been discussed without any real focus in my opinion and certainly no reflective thought.

    This quote for example:

    “Apple should be more upfront about its corporate strategy. General counsel Bruce Sewell called “deeply offensive” the Justice Department’s allegations that the company deliberately changed iPhone security to block law enforcement. But Apple told its customers a different story when it announced changes to its operating system in 2014: “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company announced. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants.””

    The way it’s written feeds into the insinuation that Apple’s changed iPhone security measures specifically to block law enforcement when Apple’s changed iPhone security measures are specifically designed to block everybody but the user. It’s an ongoing thing as well but I think that’s pretty upfront. What part of everybody being blocked don’t you understand? It’s a bit like time travel, everyone is blocked from going to the past. Good luck to FIB trying to get to get someone to build them a time machine that works. It’s just not searchable.

    Common sense, it’s just not that common these days.

  4. The “magic solution” that MDN asks about will work as follows:

    When someone accesses the back door built into every digital device, a dialog box will pop up, “Are you a licensed peace officer executing a search warrant issued by a neutral and impartial magistrate in the United States of America after review of a sworn affidavit (by a credible person) that the magistrate has found to set out probable cause to believe that legally discoverable material can be found on this device?” There would be “Cancel” and “Open” buttons, with Cancel as the default.

    Clearly, no domestic or foreign criminal, snoop, or government agent would ever lie and tap “Open” if he didn’t have a lawful warrant. Device manufacturers will adopt this safeguard because it will be every bit as effective a protection as anything else the government is likely to come up with.

    /s, if you were in doubt.

  5. “Apple should also stop conflating the broader issue of encryption with helping unlock a single iPhone”

    I’ve read the original warrant. It’s the author of that warrant who has conflated the two issues, i.e., the FBI/DoJ. Apple just reacted. If the warrant had stated just to unlock the single phone, or the data on it, without the additional nonsense it demanded, Apple would have helped.

    Besides, the FBI has already admitted that the goal of the warrant was not just unlocking a single phone.

  6. He is wrong. If a safe maker sells me a safe that says it cannot be compromised without the combination short of a nuclear device so that my personal effects are secure and I refuse to provide the combination to the safe to the cops, despite a warrant, or I die without telling anyone the combination, can the courts force the safe maker to come up with a way to compromise the safe for entry–nooooo.

    There is no difference here. Apple is only given the OWNER of the device a means to guard their privacy with encryption and codes–Apple is not providing the codes nor are they saying the owner must encrypt the information. They are just selling the customer the safe–period. From then on it is the customer who is responsible.

    Banks, storage facilities etc are different. The customer does not own the facility or only rents space. In a bank or other institution the customer is fully aware ahead of time his stuff is open to government search. But if he buys a completely secure safe he expects it to be his own property and the combination is his alone and he expects to control it.

    Same with his phone. Apple has no control over the actions taken by the owner and no oblagation to provide government anything other than what it sold the customer in the first place..

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