A Letter from Apple


#1

I’m going to leave this here and let all of you share your thoughts on the matter.
Quite frankly I’m concerned, but relieved that this company is putting their foot down.


#2

February 16, 2016 A Message to Our Customers

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.
The San Bernardino Case

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
The Threat to Data Security

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.
A Dangerous Precedent

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Tim Cook


#4

EDIT: Removed reply to a deleted comment.

That letter is pretty disconcerting. I hope the response from the public is enough to dissuade them from going through with the back door technology.


#6

Stay on topic, please.


#8

Well the government are very stupid if they want a backdoor, there is already a backdoor. I mean they have so much spying technology and yet they don’t pay attention to the bigger threats and instead is probably spying on people that don’t come close to dangerous.

They already have enough spy technology, anymore and there will be major problems.


#10

Final reminder to keep things on topic, feel free to continue off topic discussions via PM’s.


#11

Understood

salute


#12

Just some additional information here

The All Writs Act is a United States federal statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1651, which authorizes the United States federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

The act in its original form was part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The current form of the act was first passed in 1911[1] and the act has been amended several times since then.[2]

On February 16, 2016, the Act was invoked again in an order that Apple, Inc. create a special version of its iOS operating system, with certain security features removed, for Federal law enforcement officers to use as part of an investigation into the San Bernardino terrorist attack.[6] The head of the FBI stated that what was requested was that a feature be disabled, viz. that Apple disable the iPhone’s feature to wipe the device after 10 incorrect password attempts. Were Apple to comply with this demand for automated password entry with no consequence for failed attempts, simple brute force password attacks would then be trivially easy for anyone with access to a phone using this software.[7] Apple CEO Tim Cook responded in an open letter warning of the precedent that following the order and ensuring universal iPhone vulnerability would create.[8] On the same day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced its intention to support efforts by Apple, Inc. to resist the order.[9]


#13

Well I’m glad I don’t use phones.


#14

This is really a double edged sword. On one hand it’s to stop terrorists. On the other, there would be MASSIVE security breaches. The government is overreaching here. And I think the response Apple has given is respectable, I also hope that they win. I view the situation as a massive overreach on the U.S. government’s behalf


#15

Actually it will help terrorist not stop them. So actually its just going to make it worse, terrorist having access to everything along with hackers. This by far is one of the top 10 governments dumbest ideas.


#16

Except this kind of stuff doesnt work against terrorists at all. The patriot act, a mass surveilance and data collection act, has yet to have ANY noticable effect on preventing terror attacks in the US. Same thing with the NSA spying unearthed by Snowden. Several investigations have shown that these programs to spy on civillians have had a literal 0% success rate, and if anything have only weakened digital security.


#17

True, what should be done is more focus on improving encryption technology. In fact the gaming industry has already been doing this so it gets harder to download hacked versions of games (see this article for reference: http://kotaku.com/the-anti-piracy-tech-thats-tearing-video-game-hackers-a-1759518600).


#18

Yeah, I was basically stating the FBI’s side of the story that it’s for anti-terrorism. I try to remain neutral. But I tend to lean more towards the fact that they’re paranoid powermongers.
~shrug~


#19

What the government is wanting from the Apple will completely backfire. I mean didn’t the terrorist already stole a NUKE from us! A back entrance in which already has been done by hackers shouldn’t really be… encouraged.


#20

Yeah the ddos attacks were running rampant in 2014 was it?


#21

They still are, remember the steam christmas sale where suddenly personal account info from others showed up when you logged into Steam.

And indeed in 2014 there was the whole PSN/Xbox DDoS attacks that shut down their servers for a day or longer on christmas day.


#22

Yeah, that was awful. You’d think hackers would get a life. At least Anon was exposing cheating husbands and wives


#23

Or how Anonymous is trying to fight terrorism by finding terrorist twitter pages and shutting them down. Although that is doing more bad than good as it is sometimes better to see what your enemy does rather than not.


#24

Yeah, that’s true. Anon is very powerful in their own right. At the same time its good that they’re shutting down terrorist propaganda that way