Steve Bannon warns Apple: President Trump is going to ‘drop the hammer’ on you over unlocking iPhones

iPhone passcode lock screen
iPhone passcode lock screen

Steve Bannon, U.S President Trump’s former chief strategist, says that the president is going to “drop the hammer” on getting Apple to work with authorities after Trump suggested in a tweet that Apple should unlock password-protected iPhones used by the Islamic terrorits who killed three people at the Pensacola, Florida Naval Air Station late last year.

Matthew J. Belvedere for CNBC:

“If I were the guys at Apple, I would pay attention to President Trump’s tweets,” Bannon said in a “Squawk Box” interview on CNBC “I would treat his tweets like a papal bull.”

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr said Apple had not provided “substantive assistance” in unlocking the shooter’s two iPhones.

MacDailyNews Take: FYI, Bannon et al.: The FBI doesn’t need Apple to unlock the Pensacola terrorist’s iPhones.

Furthermore, Apple correctly disputed Barr’s assessment that the company failed to provide “substantive assistance” in unlocking the password-protected iPhones used by the Islamic terrorist at the Pensacola Navy base:

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation. Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing… [We] produced a wide variety of information associated with the investigation [and provided] gigabytes of information [including] iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts,” Apple said in a statement late Monday and continued:

We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data. — Apple Inc.

So, as we wrote yesterday, The U.S. government isn’t as interested in what’s on the terrorist’s iPhones as it is in somehow trying to force Apple to provide a repeatable method to unlock iPhones. The duplicitous U.S. government wants into every iPhone for whatever reason, valid or otherwise. That’s their goal. It’s obvious that the U.S. government’s full court press is on now from officials far and wide, whether they’re informed or not. We expect Apple to stand firm, weather the onslaught, and, ultimately, if need be, take this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

28 Comments

  1. The simple reality is that if Apple were stupid enough to provide such a backdoor to iPhones, the U.S. Government would then demand the same backdoor be implemented for iPads and Macs too. It won’t stop with iPhones.

    Then, once that backdoor is implemented virtually every country on the Earth is going to demand access to that backdoor — or else Apple won’t be allowed to sell products in those countries.

    Think of it. U.S. Government employees without diplomatic immunity (the vast majority of U.S. Government employees) traveling abroad could then be stopped at national entry points and be required to temporarily turn over their iPhones. The foreign government involved could then make a complete, detailed backup (mirror) of the phone to analyze at their liesure over the coming days/weeks.

    Does the U.S. Government really want this?

    Sure, Apple could tell Andora, Liechtenstein, or the Holly See to go away as they likely sell virtually no Apple products there, but could Apple walk away from all non U.S. sales in order to keep the backdoor U.S. only? No.

    We don’t need to go to the almost guaranteed case of nefarious people or organizations getting access to that backdoor. Other countries are a big enough, guaranteed problem to both the U.S. Government and Apple.

  2. Apple would never provide a backdoor. Politicians can threaten all they want but no judge or the Supreme Court would enforce it. Privacy is part of the constitution.

    1. Unfortunately, privacy is not a part of the Constitution. The privacy concerns we talk about today (i.e.: the digital realm) simply didn’t exist at the time of the Founding Fathers. The technological advancements we have would have been inconceivable to them.

      There are, however, portions of the Constitution that could have extended privacy issues into the digital age had the Supreme Court (and lower courts whose decisions were either reversed or not taken up by the SC) made other decisions in certain cases. Some of those decisions actually predate the digital age, but involve technological advances and laws made in decades prior.

      Then there’s the single most egregiously unAmerican and treasonous piece of legislation ever passed by Congress… the Patriot Act.

  3. i don’t do the tweeting but if apple wants to get Trump and Barr to back off here is the message if anyone wants to forward:

    Dear President Trump,

    Undoubtedly you have heard the warnings from the tech community about creating backdoor access to their encryption on their products. As someone who has been the target, on numerous occasions, of cyber threats and hacking, you have first hand knowledge of the damage unfettered access to this information, by anyone, can cause. We have all watched you time and again rail against the FBI, CIA, and DOJ in regards to their cyber snooping on you and your campaign and enacting a requirement such as this only makes it easier. You will have not only governments spying on individuals and taking their most private information, but you will have other countries, thieves, murders, and worse developing tools across the globe to exploit this access you seek.

    Think of your base, the blue collar americans, who have nothing to do with terrorism and espionage in the midwest. This policy does not serve them but only serves to increase the government intervention into their lives in ways where the outcome can only be disastrous. That being said Mr President, this is your moment to stand for people’s rights to privacy or stand with the big government and big government policies you detest and bellow against daily. The choice is yours and we are all listening.

      1. Please show your Mom, your wife & kids and your boss what you wrote about our outstanding President Trump, TIRELESSLY working for the American people of BOTH parties, EVERYDAY.

        Up yours, pal!…

  4. While I support Apple’s not unlocking phones for random police investigations, when high profile cases exist, Apple should step up and help. Recognizing that there is fine line here, Apple is smart enough to create guidelines regarding the size or scope of a potential crime which would allow them to help.

    1. “Recognizing that there is fine line here” the fine line has a way of becoming a mile wide, and the width will become endlessly negotiable. Does that mean Apple can or should go kamikaze on it? I don’t have the answer.

    2. Math isn’t your strong suite eh? There is ONE key, it lives in secure enclave, ON the PHONE. For Apple to develop a tool to brute force it out, is to give the whole world a key to EVERYONES devices, ACCOUNTS, BANKS, ETC. It will be used against us all. They are right to reject this unlawful, fascist overreach. No amount of “feelings” changes that. What the Trump admin requests, what Bannon suggests is Orwellian and cloaked in fear and “well meaning”.

    3. Could not agree more!

      The U.S. government, law enforcement, IRS can obtain warrants to our entire lives.

      I totally agree with AppleCynic in another thread why are iPhones so special and exempt?

      Certainly bad actors can’t just waltz into Apple headquarters, the CIA, the FBI, or White House to obtain the “backdoor” keys.

      Establish a controlled environment in a secure building with Apple technicians who pass an FBI background check and federal law enforcement. Apple unlocks the phone without divulging the methods, changes the password to open the phone, hands the phone and password to the FBI to conduct their investigation and call it a day.

      If a bad actor obtained the information, highly doubtful sounds like high horse wrapping yourself in the Constitution scare tactics, possibly design the software in such a way only Apple has the ability. We have military standards in nuclear weapon silos with detailed methods for launch, just one example. After all, this is the greatest technological company of ALL TIME and could figure a way to get it done.

      Further, unlike a Democrat presidential candidate touting the federal government enter your home to confiscate your guns and nullify the Second Amendment — we’re talking about high profile terrorists here in the U.S. killing our citizens a continued THREAT to national security, not a trailer park spat between cheating spouses.

      Certainly, laws and legislation could be worked out to establish a high bar to get it done while protecting privacy of billions of Apple iPhone owners.

      The holier than thou Constitutional privacy argument rings hollow. Fat cat Apple execs are simply lazy not stepping up to the plate…

  5. More of the same Trump kakistocracy. So the “brainiest President ever” knows more about maths, logic and computer science than all the encryption community combined?
    That Apple owes you one? Yet more mob boss behaviour.
    That a back door isn’t really a back door because we have alternative facts… so MAGA!
    That government services are so secure, always act legally and are stacked with Trump appointees ensuring fair treatment….rrriiight…
    That we would only ever use this on terrorist ‘s phones….
    That people that have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear….

    So, MDN, Trumpettes….GoeB, Dd, Thelonious…where is your sycophantic rhetoric now? How does this serve America, how does this help individual freedom and constitutional rights? How on Earth does threatening America’s greatest company that is not a monopoly, in a market rife with myriad encryption alternatives available, help in any way that cannot also be used by bad actors? And please tell me why pulling a Herod ie metaphorically washing hands with extra shrugs and muttered “Hopefully”s gets you off the hook? You are all guilty of wilful denial.

    We are so fscked.

    1. As someone who has been under years of illegal surveillance by Obama’s thugs, not to mention multiple assassination attempts, President Trump understands these issues better than anyone. In any case he certainly has more credibility than the puppet masters that programmed your unhinged diatribe, stop watching so much TV you fool.

      1. OK thickRick ….”years of illegal surveillance by Obama’s thugs, not to mention multiple assassination attempts”
        Citation?
        Or alternative facts?
        I’ll save you the struggle. Trump himself said he wasn’t literal when he said “wire tapped” “it was just a hunch” “a bit of wisdom maybe” and not even Trump’s GOP puppets have managed to unearth anything more than a “perhaps” or “it could/might/may have happened” scenario – we don’t really know but yeah…it could be true.
        “Obama’s thugs” lol
        “multiple assassination attempts”?
        Truly demented. You will be telling us next that Trump “The Chosen One” is besieged by unearthly satanic demons controlled by Democrats funded by Soros”
        Oh…and thanks for answering my questions so skilfully with Trumplike deflection. What is it that has you so scared?

  6. What if, completely theoretically, investigators wanted to unlock Donald Trump’s or Steve Bannon’s iPhones.

    Would they still want Apple to have a backdoor?

    Theoretically, of course.

    1. Well, now. That would be different, wouldn’t it?

      Two words: “Blanket immunity”

      Of course, Trump gets other people to do his dirty work, anyway, and then throws them under the bus. Manafort? Hardly knew him. He did a little work for me… That old mob boss deniability.

  7. My opinion is that Apple’s only responsibility is to the owner/user of that device. No one else should have access to that device no matter what the reason. Does Apple’s encryption policy say such things as security and privacy with a caveat? Once I lock something, unless I OK it, I don’t want anyone else to unlock it. I’m sure there might be special circumstances, like if I were in a coma or something, that might alter those circumstances, but something like that should be stipulated in advance. Apple being negatively criticized for their set security/privacy policy doesn’t seem right to me, but I’m not smart enough to have all the correct answers for all circumstances. I’d only give my opinion but not try to say what’s exactly right or wrong, especially if it doesn’t directly involve me.

    An agency asking “unlock this device for us, pretty please” doesn’t really cut it for me. The FBI has plenty of resources and alternative means of finding things out, so they should use all the tools they have at their disposal and not cry about not getting easier access. I had no idea companies that make security locks and safes have to give up the keys or combinations to agencies who want access to those devices. That’s just ridiculous to me because it betrays the rightful owner of the device. I don’t know anything about court orders and such but I just thought that covered breaking into something by any means possible. In theory, you could bribe a judge to get a court order, so I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing.

  8. First: Bannon is an unqualified idiot who should not be referenced for any matters pertaining to digital technology, security, or law. Bannon’s one and only life work has been in political spin and FUD.

    Second: think about what it means when the state chooses to “Drop the hammer”. Well that’s how strongmen work. Is this the justice system you want?

    Once upon a time the USA used to pride itself for following the rule of law. Apparently that’s not exciting enough anymore, and 30% of the electorate believes Lyin’ Don no matter what his twitter excuse of the moment is…

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-impeachment/trump-impeachment-trial-opens-white-house-faulted-on-ukraine-aid-freeze-idUSKBN1ZF186

    Finally: Timmy Cook is a real good buddy of Orange Fuhrer, so I’m sure that everything will all work out. A few strippers delivered to Mar A Lago and Apple will be given carte blanche to do whatever it was going to do anyway. That’s indeed how strongmen dictator wannabes work. Sadly, that’s what some people here think is good.

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