One of the hottest and more controversial topics in the news these days is Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the FBI. As a brief refresher, the FBI has in its possession an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Berardino terrorists during last December’s tragic shooting. While the FBI has a warrant to access the contents of the iPhone 5c as part of its investigation, it doesn’t know the passcode to the device. As a result, the FBI wants Apple to create a piece of software that would bypass the iPhone’s built-in security mechanism which is designed to completely wipe a phone after 10 failed passcode attempts. With no limitation in place, the FBI would then be able to employ brute force methods to access the device. Only problem is, Apple isn’t willing to play ball.
Understandably, the debate surrounding issue is contentious. On one hand, supporters of Apple’s position point to issues such as user privacy and the potential of setting a dangerous precedent. On the other hand, the iPhone in question may very well contain information about a larger terrorist cell.
To help get its point of view out in the open, Apple today posted a new FAQ page on its website addressing many of the more common questions people have about Apple and the FBI’s war of words.
For instance, one frequently asked question asks why Apple couldn’t just build the software fix the FBI is looking for while ensuring that it’s only compatible with one particular iPhone model and that it’s only used once.
Apple’s response to that reasonable question reads as follows:
The digital world is very different from the physical world. In the physical world you can destroy something and it’s gone. But in the digital world, the technique, once created, could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.
Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks. Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals. As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyberattacks.
Again, we strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.
The entire FAQ makes for a good prime on Apple’s stance on the matter. Even if you happen to disagree with the company’s position, it’s at the very least instructive to see where Apple is coming from.