Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Google, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Side with Apple in FBI Encryption Case

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Google, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Side with Apple in FBI Encryption Case

Article excerpt

When the FBI obtained a court order asking Apple for its help in unlocking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, Apple took a bold step: it refused.

"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," Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote on Tuesday in a letter to customers.

The FBI argues that it could obtain valuable intelligence from the communications and location data stored on Mr. Farook's iPhone 5C, and that this intelligence could save lives by preventing terror attacks in the future. In a statement supporting the FBI's case, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr wrote, "Court orders are not optional and Apple should comply. In this case, under a valid court order, Apple has been asked by the FBI to unlock a government owned cell phone to assist in the investigation of a terror attack that killed 14 Americans."

FBI Director James Comey has argued that encrypted communications, such as Apple's iMessage platform, allow criminals and terrorists to "go dark," making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to identify individuals who are planning violent acts. Without the cooperation of telecommunications carriers and tech companies such as Apple, Mr. Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee last summer, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies "may not be able to identify and stop terrorists who are using social media to recruit, plan, and execute an attack in our country."

But Apple holds that the FBI's limited request - that it disable certain iPhone security features to allow the FBI to access Farook's iPhone through brute-force password guessing - sets a dangerous precedent by undermining the security measures that keep the communications of law-abiding citizens safe. …

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