The current legal squabble between Apple and the FBI over encryption has immense ramifications for the future of privacy and security. The FBI is indeed right to want access to information that could help prevent terrorism. But Apple is also right to point out that any backdoor into the iPhone has dangerous consequences, as malicious individuals will seek to exploit those same security holes. Not to mention that Apple complying with the FBI’s demands will set a precedent that could affect all similar cases in the future.
The Apple vs. FBI conflict isn’t new, and a new report reveals the hidden war between the two sides for the past two years.
Apple surprised the FBI in summer of 2014 when it provided the agency an early copy of iOS 8 to review how the evidence-gathering techniques might change after the official release of the OS, Bloomberg revealed. It’s then that the FBI discovered the horrible secret about the upcoming operating system: Everything was encrypted.
Apple’s decision to encrypt any iOS device — as long as it’s protected by a PIN, password, or fingerprint — came as a surprise to the FBI. However, the move was only natural for Apple, which encrypted FaceTime video calls and iMessage chats in previous years. Furthermore, the company was tightening its security in light of the Snowden revelations from the previous year, but also to hinder the efforts of the evolving, and increasingly more sophisticated, attacks from hackers.
Bloomberg explains how, in the 18-months from the iOS 8 announcement to the San Bernardino shooting, Apple and the White House were close partners that became adversaries when it comes to security and encryption.
“The reason the relationship went south is the government was expecting some degree of accommodation on the part of the technology companies,” former director of privacy and civil liberties for the White House National Security Staff Timothy Edgar said. “They were expecting the companies to essentially back down and not go forward with new security measures that would make it impossible for you to access devices or communications. They were caught off guard by basically being told to get lost.”
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