Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is FBI's Claim against Apple a Bluff? Edward Snowden Raises Doubts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is FBI's Claim against Apple a Bluff? Edward Snowden Raises Doubts

Article excerpt

Another voice is wading into the controversy over Apple, Inc.'s refusal to unlock the iPhone that was used by one of the terrorists responsible for the December shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.: surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.

On Tuesday, the former National Security Agency contractor called into question the government's claim that it is unable to access data locked in the phone without Apple's assistance.

Mr. Snowden, a technology professional who unlawfully released information on mass NSA surveillance programs, was forced to flee the United States in the wake of his whistleblowing to avoid facing charges brought against him by the US Department of Justice in June, 2013.

Snowden anonymously communicated with and provided classified documents to journalists before his identity was revealed when reports about the information he provided were published, along with interviews identifying him. Following the Justice Department's move to prosecute him, Snowden flew to Moscow where he was granted asylum and has stayed ever since.

Alternatively labeled as a patriot and a traitor, Snowden's actions divided public opinion even as he remains involved in public technology and security discourse. Speaking via video feed from Russia at a Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference Tuesday, Snowden dismissed the Federal Bureau of Investigation's claim made in court that Apple has the "exclusive technical means of getting into this phone."

"Respectfully, that's horse****," he said, after discussing the implications of further allowing government access to supposedly private communications.

Via his Twitter account Tuesday, Snowden also shared an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report which states that the FBI's claim that Apple must unlock the mobile device itself is fraudulent, suggesting the agency hopes to "weaken the ecosystem" of smartphone security in a "power grab."

"They're asking the public to grant them significant new powers that could put all of our communications infrastructure at risk, and to trust them to not misuse these powers," according to ACLU technology fellow Daniel Kahn Gillmor. …

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