The FBI went to a judge and apparently whined they couldn’t access the data in one of the San Bernardino Terrorist’s phones.
Apple responded that the programming doesn’t exist (by design) which would allow even them (Apple) to break into the phone.
Then Trump gets in on the action and says we need to get the information on that phone.
To which I say;
NO WE DON’T
I’d like to tell Trump to be quiet and let the adults talk.
Just because the information happens to exist on a phone, doesn’t mean that we have to access it. If the data were written on paper that had been burned, the FBI wouldn’t have access to it would they? Data locked on a phone is essentially the same.
The FBI does have other phones belonging to the San Bernardino Terrorists. They have access to all the bills and phone records of calls made to and from each of the phones in question.
Along with that information the FBI no doubt has access to all the text messages, or at least the source and destination phone numbers associated with those text messages. Just as I have that information for SMS messages printed on my cell phone bill every month.
What the FBI doesn’t have is information that may have been sent from that iPhone 5C to other iPhones, iPads, or Macs. This is because the information was sent via data channels instead of via SMS.
To quote another famous phrase, “What does it matter at this point anyway?”
The FBI has the terrorist’s computers, the odds are damn high that any communications carried out on the phone were replicated on the computers. These terrorists are dead on the pavement, they’ve been disavowed by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban.
This strikes me as nothing more than an end run around the issues of encryption by the FBI.
Apple doesn’t have the software to break into the phone, because creation of that software would eventually mean that the software would get out. After all we all know how secure Data at the Office of Personnel Management was. How about the IRS data? Or the Healthcare.GOV data? Or, Or, Or…
Once a program capable of cracking the encryption on an iPhone or Samsung phone is out in the world, no-one has privacy.
This is the fundamental argument Tim Cook of Apple has been making all along.
Apple is very explicit in their encryption warnings on their computers. If you loose this password and you don’t have a recovery key we can’t help you. My computer’s drive is encrypted, I have the key stored and I know the password. But I don’t expect Apple to be able to decrypt my drive, or my iPhone, or my iPad. Even if I was stupid enough to loose or forget the passwords…
I don’t want Apple to be able to decrypt my stuff ever!
Beyond that is this point.
MIT recently reported there were something like 586 different encryption programs freely available from a variety of sources. So even if Apple compromises it’s principals (I hope to God they don’t) Criminals will simply choose an alternative encryption technique.
When that happens, what’s the FBI going to do? Bitch, piss, and moan their way into making a manufacturer in Switzerland, for example build them a backdoor? If that day comes I’d be curious to see the response the FBI gets.
According to the LA Times article Farook disabled the icloud backup 6 weeks prior to the attack. It’s entirely likely that Farook disabled the GPS function and deleted messages as well. So even if the FBI gains access, it’s questionable if there will be any useful data recovered.
Regardless, the damage done to American privacy will be done.