U.S. Attorney General Barr complains Apple has provided no ‘substantive assistance’ in accessing terrorist’s iPhones

iPhone passcode lock screen
iPhone passcode lock screen

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr declared on Monday that a deadly shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., was an act of Islamic terrorism.

Katie Benner for The New York Times:

Barr asked Apple in an unusually high-profile request to provide access to two phones used by the gunman.

Mr. Barr’s appeal was an escalation of an ongoing fight between the Justice Department and Apple pitting personal privacy against public safety.

“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr. Barr said, calling on Apple and other technology companies to find a solution and complaining that Apple has provided no “substantive assistance.”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple has given the U.S. government all they’re going to give and all they can give. There are no backdoors or secret keys into iPhones that Apple can provide.

Why don’t these genius politicians next attempt to legislate in purple unicorns? They’re equally as plentiful as secure backdoors.MacDailyNews, October 3, 2018

Again, encryption is binary; it’s either on or off. You cannot have both. You either have privacy via full encryption or you don’t by forcing back doors upon Apple or anybody else. It’s all or nothing. — MacDailyNews, March 8, 2017

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

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funds encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

20 Comments

  1. Sorry, Barr. Freedom (as in Speech) doesn’t come for free (as in Beer). And eternal vigilance isn’t the only price of freedom. There’s also this cost: sometimes bad guys have freedom too.

    And as they say, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    Live with it, Barr. (And stop blatantly obstructing justice while you’re at it. And recuse yourself in the prosecution of crimes in which you are complicit.)

  2. Barr: “Apple has provided no ‘substantive assistance’ in accessing terrorist’s iPhones (Darn it!).”

    MDN: “There are no backdoors or secret keys into iPhones that Apple can provide.”

    iPhone users: “Good.” (Directs Barr to get bent.)

    This is the same crap Comey tried back in 2016 when he was strong-arming Apple into cracking a shooter’s phone because the FBI had tried to open it themselves and got locked out.

    https://www.newser.com/story/221437/fbi-we-screwed-up-trying-to-unlock-phone.html

    https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-fbi-iphone-san-bernardino-20180327-story.html

    Apple said ‘no’ so Comey tries to tell them ‘Oh, well, we can crack it another way.’ It turned out to be a pack of lies in an attempt to coerce Apple. So, the FBI turns to company called Cellebrite to purportedly get into the phone.

    The whole ordeal ended up being a PR disaster for Comey and an FBI clownshow.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3514875/Israeli-firm-helped-FBI-crack-San-Bernardino-gunman-s-cellphone-without-Apple-s-help.html

    “The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” — Ronald Reagan

  3. The problem with stories like this is that they are a part of an organized attack on the notion of scientific truth. Barr thinks that Apple is refusing to crack iPhones because it does not want to. In fact, it is simply impossible to crack the encryption except through brute-force methods that the American government is better equipped to employ than Apple itself.

    Barr refuses to accept that as a fact because the very notion of “facts” has become suspect. When scientists assert that it takes massive dedicated computing resources to crack modern encryption schemes, or that the radiation-absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide transmits more radiation from the sun than heat radiation from the earth, or that vaccines prevent more harm than they cause, people with a certain mindset regard those facts, like all “facts,” as just opinions held by a conspiratorial clique of elitists, no more valid that the opinions of anyone else. Just as Joe Sixpack and Dr. Einstein each get the same vote for President, they both get the same vote on higher mathematics, physics, and scientific causation.

    Barr and his cronies may believe the untruth that it would be easy for Apple to devise an encryption system that allows easy access by someone with a valid court order obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment or its foreign equivalent, but that denies access by anybody else. After all, one opinion is worth as much as another. Whether the Big Brothers believe it or not, they intend to keep repeating it until a majority of the American public believes it. That will have, to say the least, unpleasant consequences.

    1. Agreed about most of what you say. However Apple was stupid enough to set themselves up for this the second they decided to join the server rental business — the “Cloud”. They opened a can of worms that will probably regret.

      Do you hold he encryption keys to your iCloud data? No you don’t. Apple does. Most people don’t even know how and where Apple encrypts anything. Hint: it’s not all on your battery powered portable device. Which means that at least some of your data is vulnerable in transmission. Apple takes your data, sniffs it all for marketing purposes and child photos etc, and then claims to encrypt it before dumping it on rented Amazon, Google, and Microsoft servers. Timmy gives you zero written guarantee that Apple will keep those encryption keys in-house under Fort Knox security. He merely claims to do so. Blind faith alone makes iOS and iCloud lovers believe that their data is secure. I realize that we live in an era when random claims are all it takes for the public to believe something is so, but it’s truly pathetic that the Apple fanboy chorus thinks Tim will protect their data from the government after having capitulated in every other nation. China, Russia, you name it. Consumer data is freely given by Apple to the government because that’s the local law. Whenever any nation writes laws, just or not, democratic or not, Timmy gives in rather than standing on principle and withdrawing the service. If the current corrupt US administration signed a law requiring backdoors, Timmy would comply with only a small public wimper. That’s in Timmy’s beta dog DNA.

      The whole Cloud industry stinks — it’s turned millions of consumers into unpaid data generators to make corporations easy money, and that absolutely includes Apple. Does Timmy guarantee that no employee of Apple has access to your data? We know Apple hires thousands of people to listen to Siri discussions. Can you verify the policies in place for those employees? Does Apple guarantee that your data will he housed in the state/country where you live? Does Apple notify you when it an authority requests your account data? Can you confirm if Apple has the ability to sense if your data was unencrypted by a bad actor inside Apple or one of its cloud subsuppliers? Apple DOES hold the back door key, and you have no idea how it is protected. Timmy isn’t tech savvy enough to know or understand how to explain it to you, but he should have been smart enough to give users the key so they and they alone are responsible for data integrity starting the millisecond it is input onto their devices. The way it is now, Apple is the big target for hackers and overzealous government security agencies. Some simpletons consumers actually like that. Any consumer with a brain would not. If you don’t hold the key to the encryption for your data, then your data cannot be considered safe. Period. Don’t hold blind faith that Apple will protect it any better than they protect the data of Russians or Chinamen — all their data is straightlined through the Kremlin or Beijing, Apple just facilitates it for them. Nice values, Apple. As the USA degrades into an untrustworthy single-party corrupted state with politically appointed stooges like Barr selectively enforcing laws, why would anyone think Timmy would protect their data? Timmy would bow to political pressure like always.

      1. Barr is not a “stooge” that is your blind bias getting in the way of the truth. You want to talk AG stooges two of them worked for President Obama. Barr and his team are in the process of uncovering the corruption during the last administration. Reckoning is coming and you won’t be able to handle it…

          1. Comey did, however, criticize Clinton’s use of a private email server as “extremely careless.”

            “38 unidentified people were said to be “culpable” in 91 cases after sending classified information which made its way to Clinton’s personal email.
            Those cases were part of 588 violations that were found from the 33,000 emails”

            Certainly government protocol was violated and should be a criminal offense it is unbelievable no one is in jail for multiple violations…

  4. Since when has Barr been interested in uncovering real evidence. But, you can’t blame him. He’s just following the administration’s policy, blame someone else for your own incompetence.

  5. The law enforcement agencies seem to be bipolar. The criminal investigative branches always want easier to break devices while cyber security want more hardened devices. The FBI themselves just some weeks back warned home linked devices are very vulnerable and said we should increase security.

    Practically every week companies even big ones like Facebook get hacker attacks and these dudes like Barr want ‘hacker come in holes’ in our phones.

    BTW terrorists would simply install third party encryption if they need to.

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