The debates over iPhone encryption have been going on for a while now, and Apple has agreed that it is up to Congress now to decide who can access your personal digital data. At FBI they say that Apple’s security is like a vicious guard dog, while the cell phone maker is dedicated to protecting consumers privacy.
The debates started when FBI asked Apple to unlock the iPhone used by a shooter responsible for deadly shooting in San Bernardino that happened in December. Apple says that FBI asked them to weaken the security of their products and it is not right to make the society less safe in general in order to solve a crime.
After attention has shifted from the courts to Congress, the deep disagreement between the Obama administration and the Silicon Valley became obvious, even though the government is set for open dialogue.
In Brooklyn, the administration did not make Apple give them access to a phone tied to a drug case. But in California a magistrate judge directed the company to assist FBI with hacking into the phone used by one of San Bernardino shooters responsible for death of 14 people. The phone is an iPhone 5C and a health inspector Syed Farook was the one who used it. He and his wife died in a gun battle with the police.
It is time for Congress to get involved deciding this issue between public safety and private safety.
The FBI wants special software that would hack into encrypted phones and help access their data. If Apple provides the FBI with such software, it would only take 26 minutes to test postcodes in quick succession bypassing security protocols.
There was a mistake when the FBI asked the county that owned the phone to reset the iCloud password. If the password was not reset, the investigators could have reached a fresh back-up of the phone and examine it. Still, there is no way to get all the data from the back-up.
Darrel Issa, a Republican Rep of California, wonders if the FBA asked Apple to provide the source code (underlying software) before forcing the phone maker into creating a tool to hack their own security. He also thinks the FBI did not do everything possible to resolve the problem before going to court. Issa also said that while the government was dedicated to resolving the issue, Apple did not offer any alternatives to help them with that.
There are now 205 phones that can’t be used in criminal investigation because investigators cannot access them.
As the technologies of encryption and security keep developing, it is possible that it is time for law enforcement to find a new way to gather evidence. People should be able to trust the devices they use with their private information. Companies must secure their customers, not spy on them, but if the government prevails, not much can be done to prevent it.