As had been widely reported, a federal judge on Tuesday ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. Apple has opposed the order in a public letter from Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
Cook opens by stating why encryption is necessary:
Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.
All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission.
The battle against hackers and hi-tech criminals has been one in which the bad guys consistently win, as we see in headlines week after week. Just about everything we have online and on laptops seems vulnerable to hackers. Apple — unlike many of their technology peers — has been a leader in the fight for privacy and security. By most measures, Apple offers the most secure smartphone solutions in the industry, and even if we’re not aware of it, we all benefit from that level of security — companies, organizations and government agencies as well as consumers.
The months-long controversy over encryption has been characterized by unrealistic demands from the anti-encryption side, who ask for something that is impossible: A backdoor that only they can have access to. There is no precedent in the age of the Internet that they can cite when such an approach was effective, because no such example exists. To understand why the idea is a pipe dream requires a thoughtful and somewhat complex discussion–which is unfortunately all but impossible in today’s polarized environment. There is no way to guarantee that any backdoors are only going to be used for “good”. This topic goes beyond allowing law enforcement to be able to unlock devices for those they have a warrant for. All of us are at risk of losing a phone or having a device stolen. If a back door exists, then so does the possibility of a criminal being able to tap into the data stored or accessed from our mobile devices.
Appthority’s mission is to help our customers protect themselves and their employees from the same hackers and criminals that would take advantage of the requested backdoor from Apple. We recently reported on an app that contained a backdoor that would enable bad actors to circumvent Apple’s App Store controls, and we gave our customers the ability to identify and remediate such apps. We are always against backdoors that would expose our (and our company’s) private information, and we’re glad that Apple is as well.
I expect Apple to take a lot of heat for its stance. But not from Appthority, which applauds and supports Apple’s position. The stakes are higher than one isolated case. And we agree with what Tim Cook so eloquently states in the conclusion of his letter:
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
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