back to article Cook moves iPhone debate to FBI's weak ground: The media

Tim Cook has moved the fervent debate over government access to an iPhone to what he hopes will be safer ground: the media. In an interview with mainstream media outlet ABC, the Apple CEO has bathed journalists in a series of cleverly pitched soundbites in an effort to win public opinion on the issue. Most eye-catching has …

  1. Oh Homer
    Big Brother

    It's not often I agree with Apple but...

    This is one of those times.

    And yes I fully realise that Apple's ulterior motive is not particularly noble, but the coincidental outcome might be, nonetheless.

    Ultimately what the FBI is actually demanding unfettered access to is not Apple's private data, but mine, and yours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

      Ok, try this.

      A murderer is gunned down while on a killing spree in a school.

      The FBI is on the case and soon the car is located in the school's parking lot. In the car information could well be found concerning the perpetrator's motives and/or accomplices. Or not. There may also be stuff inside it that has absolutely no relevance to the case. Holiday snapshots. Used condoms. Take your pick. Or not.

      Unfortunately the car is locked. The FBI fears the user (read: alleged murderer) may have installed a booby-trap. The car may burst into flames when it is opened by irregular means. Equally unfortunately, the key seems to be missing. It may have gotten lost in the fracas, or the user may have purposely destroyed it.

      So a Judge orders the car manufacturer to open it with a key that they do not possess at this time. They have, however, the information to fabricate it in short order, since they have the car's build sheet.

      The car manufacturer invokes the first amendment. Because the key does not open the lock directly, but instead sends digital information to a programmed ECU inside the car that sends an open command to the locks. (It may be a bit of a stretch...go with the flow.)

      How would you respond to them ?

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

        Stop the strawmen, please.

        It's not quite as simple as a car. If you want to go into car analogies it's more a matter of designing a master key that can open all the cars of that brand and deal with the corresponding ECU, and hand it over to the police in the hope that (a) they can keep it safe (I know for a fact they cannot) and (b) all of them are honest and so would never abuse this power (which is not only statistically improbably, but also very much proven not to be the case).

        The big question is why the judge and FBI went to such great lengths to pretend this was a one off when they full well knew that was quite simply impossible in the US legal system. Especially the fact that the judge collaborated with attempting to establish that fiction as fact is what I find very troubling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

          It doesn't look Samsonite & C. complained when TSA forced any luggage to have a backdoor, including those of foreign people... maybe because it meant more sales?

          Anyway the FBI didn't ask for a backdoor nor a master key. The request is to help to unlock a single phone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

            The request is to help to unlock a single phone.

            Yup. And they know full well that that is not how US law works - it will create a precedent. Which has been explained over and over again, so I assume you just woke up out of a coma and came into this new. In that case, welcome back - just in time for the weekend.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

          "The big question is why the judge and FBI went to such great lengths to pretend this was a one off when they full well knew that was quite simply impossible in the US legal system."

          According to a previous report here the answer to part one is that the FBI assured the magistrate that it was a reasonable demand and Apple's view wasn't asked for. The answer to the second part, why the FBI did it is pretty obvious to most of us.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

        @ Peter R. 1

        From long experience in N Ireland - where, incidentally terrorism was substantially financed from N America with the US govt apparently turning a blind eye:

        1. In the event of a suspected booby-trapped device the usual response was to disrupt the device which could be anything from a robot-controlled shotgun to a controlled explosion. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

        2. Yes, there has been experience of getting useful information out of a car used in a crime. I've examined a few vehicles myself back in the old days. But the value was almost invariably in terms of whether there was any evidence that could connect the suspects with the vehicle. After a few successes in court torching the vehicle became normal procedure so no evidence was left, One of the first things you have to learn about criminal investigation is that you use what's available and not what you wish you had.

        Concerning your straw man. Let's say the manufacturer has produced the key for you. The car is still potentially booby-trapped. Are you going to be the one who goes forward to check? Better go ahead with the controlled explosion.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

          I strongly object to the use of the strawman acuusation here. It implies 2 rhings, namely that :

          a. I disagree with the OP, and

          b. I am doing so on the basis of a false argument, or even a lie.

          Both are incorrect. First of, I do not per se disagree with the OP. But a lot has been written and said about this case so far, and none of the arguments seem to hold any water in a legal context. Now, you may disagree with the law, and at this point I'm not sure I like it very much, but It seems to me the case and the car analogy are not very different, namely, in both cases a Judge requires the examination of a system locked by an alleged perpetrator to determine if evidence can be found. In both cases it is not sure the evidence is to be found inside of the system (be it a locked Phone or a locked car) or even if such evidence exists at all.

          I can not however but observe that a big stink is being raised in the case of the Phone, while the opening of other posessions of alleged perpetrators is conducted on a daily basis.

          At this juncture I do not understand the difference between the opening of a physical safe to extract analogue information or the opening of a digital safe (read Phone) to extract digital information.

          Which is what I was trying to sollicit an opinion on. Unfortunately, in vain.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

            "At this juncture I do not understand the difference between the opening of a physical safe to extract analogue information or the opening of a digital safe (read Phone) to extract digital information." -- Peter R. 1

            Nothing wrong with asking Chubb to help you open that one safe, or with them doing so. But if, having assisted you in every way they can, the only way Chubb could assist further is by creating a safecracking tool which would open this safe, but also work on millions of the safes they have already sold, then I think it would be reasonable for them to contest being compelled to do so.

      3. andrewj

        Re: It's not often I agree with Apple but...

        Oh dear someone has been watching too much "24" again.

      4. Oh Homer
        Headmaster

        Re: "How would you respond to them ?"

        I would give them the single key needed to open that single lock, which is a radically different proposition to giving them a master key to every lock, and the legal precedent they'd capitalise on to use it speculatively (just as the NSA did), violating the rights of millions of innocent people in the process.

        If the price of protecting and serving the public is oppression, then in reality we are being neither protected nor served, we are merely exchanging one injustice for another.

  2. DainB Bronze badge

    FBI vs Apple

    So make your choice.

    Your phone unlocked while in possession of FBI (and if it got there there were quite a few reasons for that).

    vs

    Private corporations Apple and Google spying on your every move 24x7 and having full access to your data in their clouds and possibly all data on your phone whenever they want.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Stop

      @DainB - Re: FBI vs Apple

      > So make your choice.

      No.

      That's a False Dilemma. It is not simply an either/ or choice between your two options, "neither of the above" is a perfectly valid choice too, provided you're willing to stand up and say "No!"

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: @DainB - FBI vs Apple

        It's not a false dilemma, second one is already a reality and you happily accepted it buying and using mobile phone.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: @DainB - FBI vs Apple

          DainB your logic is comical: you presented something as a dilemma, it was (correctly) pointed out to you that it was a false dilemma, and you respond it isn't because the second part is true? You do realise that whether two lemmas form a true dilemma or a false one is ENTIRELY independent of the truth of one of the given lemmas?

          1. DainB Bronze badge

            Re: @DainB - FBI vs Apple

            The thing you did not understand is that I did not present any dilemma.

            You don't have any choice.

            1. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: @DainB - FBI vs Apple

              "The thing you did not understand is that I did not present any dilemma." -- DainB

              We'll, about 12 hours ago (Reg, can't we have proper time stamps back?) someone used your account to do so, scroll back and you'll see.

              1. DainB Bronze badge

                Re: @DainB - FBI vs Apple

                I just shortened Apple position to two sentences but you failed to recognize it.

                Are you some kind of special ? Maybe you even have an iPhone ?

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: FBI vs Apple

      Apple and Google might snoop your data for profit, but they can't lock you up without trial.

      Add that to the fact that the FBI and other TLAs haven't been above corruption - including the fabrication of evidence in cases involving the fucking death penalty - in the past when it suits their agenda, and can lock you up without trial, and I think you'll find that your argument doesn't really defend your point of view as well as you think it does.

      Steven R

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: FBI vs Apple

        Sure they can't put you into jail but they posses and can leak enough information* to ruin your life or career. Think of The Fappening as the one of most prominent examples of that.

        *you willingly provided them yourself and signed all disclaimers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FBI vs Apple

          Sure they can't put you into jail but they posses and can leak enough information* to ruin your life or career. Think of The Fappening as the one of most prominent examples of that.

          You're still talking about Apple?

          Why would Apple risk that to the detriment of the whole company? Were you not the one that Apple only did this for profit? What do you think would happen when data leaks that could have only come from one source?

          You seem to be desperate to paint Apple in a bad light, but a Saturday evening drunk in Glasgow offers better logic than you employ.

          Oh, and by the way, I *do* read Terms & Conditions - in full. That's why I don't use Facebook or Gmail and search using DuckDuckGo.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FBI vs Apple

        Apple & C. can break the as much as the FBI can. Just, you can have much more control on the FBI than those you can have on any private company. If you don't mind who you vote, well, that's the real issue that lead the FBI to be what it is now. Just, you can't vote the Apple CEO.

        Maybe Apple can't jail you (yet, one day there could be iCourts and iPrisons, just like Robocop's OCP, if people are so blind to believe megacorps will protect their rights and do their interests...), but when huge amount of data, sometimes very important one, are stored into those company servers, I won't be so sure nobody will access then against you - illegally, of course, there are no corrupt people inside big companies? - and maybe even fabricate data against you, if they see an advantage.

        Remember, in a true democratic society, only the Law can protect you. Not a private company.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FBI vs Apple

      Apple doesn't spy on your every move 24x7 and doesn't have access to the data on your phone whenever they want.

      But yeah, equate them with a data collection and advertising behemoth like Google if it makes you feel better, even though its totally wrong. Look at Apple's guarantee of anonymity - both from them and from the merchant - when you use Apple Pay. Notice the conspicuous lack of a similar guarantee from Google for Android Pay - because this is very valuable data for them to sell.

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: FBI vs Apple

        Are you sure about it ? They did not have any issue to provide copy of phone backup to Feds.

        You can of course continue fooling yourself that there is some kind of moral principles Apple is fighting for but in reality all they're fighting for is their profits. Right now it is profitable to look like they care about users, once it will be more profitable to sell all your data to highest bidder they will do it without split second of hesitation and phleeease try to prove me I'm wrong, I'd like to see that.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: FBI vs Apple

          "You can of course continue fooling yourself that there is some kind of moral principles Apple is fighting for but in reality all they're fighting for is their profits. " -DainB

          and your point is ... ? The motive and degree of hypocrisy of the proponent makes no difference to the validity or otherwise of the argument. Come on, we all learned that in big school, didn't we?

          People arguing that Apple are merely chasing profits make an even more egregious mistake than not realising this is an irrelevance of hypocrisy: it is almost a counter-argument. If Apple make more profit by keeping their customers safe than they do by cooperating with the government, that is what their customers want --- it is very nearly democracy through the proxy of capitalism:

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FBI vs Apple

          You can of course continue fooling yourself that there is some kind of moral principles Apple is fighting for but in reality all they're fighting for is their profits. Right now it is profitable to look like they care about users, once it will be more profitable to sell all your data to highest bidder they will do it without split second of hesitation and phleeease try to prove me I'm wrong, I'd like to see that.

          I'm not entirely sure where you learned reasoning, but I'd get my money back if I were you.

          1 - it is indeed in Apple's interest to fight this for its own reasons, but note that even data thief Google is siding with them. Why? Because the implications of this precedent would destroy their business too. US companies already have enough problems protecting client information, and now Germany has even introduced a new privacy law specifically aimed at US companies so they *really* don't want matters to get even worse.

          2 - prove you wrong on something that hasn't happened? Really? I know it's close to the weekend but you're hitting the recreational drugs a bit early IMHO.

  3. veti Silver badge

    Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

    I must say, I don't get the "compelling Apple to help the FBI is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!" argument.

    How exactly is it different from compelling a reluctant witness to testify in a court case? Which is something that happens all the time.

    Don't get me wrong, I hope Apple wins the case - but this particular argument doesn't look even superficially, remotely convincing to me.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

      Compelling a reluctant witness to testify in court is not at all comparable with compelling a locksmith to make a special tool that will open the locks of all his customers or even to break in to the home/office of one of his customers.

      If the lawmakers want to save lives, they could compel car manufacturers to prevent cars from travelling faster than the local speed limit or ban the use of tobacco products or severely limit the sale of alcoholic drinks. Why don't they do any of that?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why are some deaths more important than others?

        Over 30,000 people die each year from auto accidents in the US - far more than the total number of US citizens who have died in all terrorist incidents both domestic and foreign since 1776!

        So let's pass a law requiring governors be installed in all cars so they can travel no faster than 10 mph, because it would eliminate almost every one of those deaths. No one in the cars would die (unless they drove off a cliff I guess) and they'd be moving slowly enough for pedestrians to get out of the way most of the time.

        If all we care about is public safety and reducing deaths, why is this not seen as reasonable by those who back the FBI because 'terrorism'?

        1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: Why are some deaths more important than others?

          Brilliant idea, have an upvote. How about forcing gun manufacturers to weld stops on the ends of the spouts so that in the event of war concerned citizens only need to hack saw a bit off?

          How long does it take to march from Russia to Alaska these days?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why are some deaths more important than others?

            Do you believe you can stop Russian tanks with your little guns? They are good to kill a poor deer or your schoolmates/coworkers, but it's no longer 1776, you're not going to stop any army invading your country with your rifle - even if you're Chuck Norris.. Just hope your government and army is able to repel an invasion.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why are some deaths more important than others?

            "How long does it take to march from Russia to Alaska these days?"

            Don't worry. Sarah Palin will see them coming from her porch.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

        All the more ridiculous since all Muslim Terrrrrsts since 9/11 have been using the Gulianne Specials that nobody in government can use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

      A subpoena merely forces someone to appear in cour. If they don't, they go to jail, does not pass go and most certainly they don't collect $200.

      It does not and can not force them to speak.

      In the USA, the 5th Ammendment allows them to take the stand, swear the oath and say nothing but 'I'm taking the 5th' to each and every question put to them.

      {two years sharing an apartment with a Harvard Law Grad taught me a few things}

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

        I'll say it again. Don't post about the law unless you know how it actually works, rather than how you think it might or should work from misunderstood snippets from your Harvard Law roommate.

        A witness can be forced to testify about a subject, so long the subject matter isn't one that leads to self incrimination.

        If Alice is a witness to Bob murdering Charlie, the prosecution most definitely can compel Alice to appear and testify (i.e. speak) in the case against Bob. And if they refuse, or are obstructive, giving "I know nothing" answers in a manner the judge feels is contrary to presented evidence or common sense, they can be held in contempt. What on earth makes you think differently?

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

          "If Alice is a witness to Bob murdering Charlie, the prosecution most definitely can compel Alice to appear and testify (i.e. speak) in the case against Bob." ... "Don't post about the law unless you know how it actually works, " --- AC

          I'm not sure the analogy is useful - in fact I think the way this sub-argument has progressed proves that. I think the AC you are attacking was making the point that there are already exceptions (refusing to self-incriminate by "taking the fifth") to what the court can compel you to do. Your point that they can compel you to do other things (testify against others) doesn't really counter his point. In this case, reluctantly continuing the analogy, the attempted compulsion is more like trying to get an expert witness to publish a book containing all their expertise rather than compelling them to help on a particular issue.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If Alice is a witness to Bob murdering Charlie

            Then the court can compel her testimony about what she witnessed, but that's it. The equivalent in this case would be if Apple already had the PIN (stored on a server or something) and the court ordered Apple to produce it.

            That's not what the FBI is asking the court force Apple to do. The equivalent in the Alice case would be compelling her to testify as an expert witness. If she was a psychiatrist, requiring her to meet with Charlie to prepare testimony as to whether he is sane enough to stand trial. If she was an actuary, doing research as to historic and future earnings prospects for him in his career field to provide her opinion on the "value" of Charlie's life in a civil suit. The court can't compel her speech as an expert witness. She must agree to be called, she can't be forced.

            Apple does not have the ability to unlock the phone, without creating a new version of iOS that removes the 10 try limit and the delays between tries. That's what the FBI is trying to force them to do - create something new not provide something they already have. They want Apple to be sort of an 'expert witness' or an extension of the FBI's tech team. They were not a witness to the crime, and do not have the information the FBI wants (the passcode and/or the contents of the phone) available to them.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

        Yes. I've had plenty of those. They're called witness summonses. A summons can also call on a witness to produce in court some item of evidence that they possess. What's being attempted here is to call on someone to produce something that (a) isn't evidence and (b) they don't possess. That's a radical departure from standard procedure.

  4. bri

    The actual matter

    If I understand it correctly, this is in fact about Apple being forced to do a forensic instrument. And this is completely different stuff than is usually presented.

    FBI personnel committed blunders in handling the evidence (they changed access codes), thus making it impossible to get to content via usual means (eg. iCloud backup). In order for the content of the cracked iPhone to be admissable in court, Apple would have to create forensics tool, where they have the obligation of *proving* the method, i.e. they have to make code, methods, weaknesses to be fully available to FBI and courts, everything nicely wrapped and documented.

    And we know that the US government can be trusted to do the right thing and not abuse it, right? Or at least they can protect it like the most sensitive data about their employees within OPM. Oh wait...

    1. SundogUK

      Re: The actual matter

      This.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple is trying to convince us

    that they are not stooges of the NSA and they actually care about us.

    This is simply a marketing exercise to limit the damage to Apple caused by the Snowden revelations.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Apple is trying to convince us

      "This is simply a marketing exercise to limit the damage to Apple caused by the Snowden revelations" --AC

      So what? Person X says Y because of reason Z. I disagree with Z. I don't like person X; actually it's worse than that, person X did bad thing W.

      What the hell does any of that have to do with the truth or otherwise of Y?

      How can actual adults, moreover people who can spell, have passable grammar, can use a computer etc. make such absolutely trivial logical errors? I dream of a "logic auto-correct" that would just put wiggly red lines under all such braindead content, and when you hover your computer s̶q̶u̶i̶r̶t̶s̶ ̶w̶a̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ takes you to some web pages on elementary logic and makes you read them until you have wised up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple is trying to convince us

      that they are not stooges of the NSA and they actually care about us.

      This is simply a marketing exercise to limit the damage to Apple caused by the Snowden revelations.

      I must admit that I find it sometimes hard to have a logical discussion through the purple haze of iPhone envy.

      WTF are you talking about? If any company has BENEFITTED from Snowden's disclosures it's Apple. This whole case is exactly about Apple not assisting in such endeavours.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Apple is trying to convince us

      "Apple is trying to convince us that they are not stooges of the NSA and they actually care about us."

      Watch Michael Hayden, ex-NSA chief here:

      http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/ex-cia-nsa-chief-michael-hayden-on-apples-fight-with-fbi-2016-campaigns/

      His conclusion is that end-to-end security protects the interests of national security much more than it harms them.

  6. mr. deadlift

    alternatively

    law enforcement hands over evidence/phone to multinational company.

    instructs/contracts said company to extract cryptographic key.

    company hands back phone either sans security or with working entry code.

    i suppose the issue here might be apple may contaminate or plant evidence on the phone.

    surely an observer or process could be put in place to curicumvent this.

    it seems to me that there is a much more acceptable middle ground answer rather than the lets break all the iphone security the feds are after.

    surely extracting the potential info on that phone is going to be helpful in putting this case to bed.

    but taking down an entire company's security measure potentially is bound to have dire circumstances.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: alternatively

      Your shift key has gone missing. Have a word with Bombastic Bob, he seems to have a spare.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is already a backdoor

    Apple are being disingeuous. Put Apple's ability to update a locked 'phone without user authentication together with Apple's own code signing keys and there you have an already existing back door.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is already a backdoor

      Put Apple's ability to update a locked 'phone without user authentication together with Apple's own code signing keys and there you have an already existing back door.

      Really? An update normally wipes the phone, which is what the key problem is. There's little point in installing backdoor code if it triggers a wipe, otherwise they would have already done that. That is exactly why the FBI wants Apple to create something new.

  8. Mark Simon

    But who owns the device?

    In general, it’s good that Apple is refusing to break into its own security system, and it’s good that the security appears to be working, too well for some. But surely this is an exceptional case.

    The news reports indicate that it is the county itself who owns the phone. Do they not have a legal right to access what is on their system? Although the phone was legally used by an employee, does that employee have a legal right to expect to keep their data private? I thought that this would be similar whether your boss has legal access to emails on your work account.

    I’m (obviously) not a lawyer, but I wonder whether the real owner has the legal and moral right ask for help picking the lock. Apple would then have the face-saving option of agreeing on the grounds that they are assisting the owner and not some evil third party, and that this could not possibly set a precedent for government to gain access to everybody else’s phone.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But who owns the device?

      This is a good point and one on which maybe a compromise could have been reached which could have gained the sympathy of iThing owners. However AFAIK it's not the owners asking for this, it's the FBI and that creates a very different situation.

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: But who owns the device?

      "I’m (obviously) not a lawyer, but I wonder whether the real owner has the legal and moral right ask for help picking the lock. Apple would then have the face-saving option of agreeing on the grounds that they are assisting the owner and not some evil third party, and that this could not possibly set a precedent for government to gain access to everybody else’s phone." -- Mark Simon

      I'm afraid the ownership doesn't make any difference. When either the owner or the state has the phone they can legitimately examine the contents. However, the contents are gibberish without the key. The key is ALSO in the phone. But it cannot be extracted by Apple unless that company creates a tool that jeopardises the safety of other customers. Apple, if they are telling the truth, and it looks as if they are, have provided every assistance right up to creating that tool, and now they're asking the courts to dismiss an earlier judgment ordering them to do so.

      "this could not possibly set a precedent..."

      There is literally no way that this would be possible. For instance, owner asks Apple for help, Apple provides it. FBI asks Apple for help ... Apple say no on the grounds they only help owners? There is nothing any of the parties can do within a court case that will determine (or perhaps even influence) whether or not it later forms a precedent. Remember, precedent does not have to be binding, it can be merely influential.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: But who owns the device?

      Of course the county has the right to access the contents of their own phone.

      Forget about this case for a moment, take real life: You bought an iPhone. Obviously you have the right to access the contents of your own phone. You set up a passcode. And being a bit negligent, you forget the passcode. So you take your phone to the Apple Store. Of course you still have the right to access the contents of your own phone.

      So what do they tell you at the store? The "Genius" at the Apple Store obviously can't crack the code. They are quite clever, I bet they have a list of codes to try, like birthdays, postcodes, phone numbers, 1234, and so on, but beyond that they cannot help you.

      If you have a four digit passcode, no extra security, and no backup, they will tell you that you have the choice of resetting your phone and losing everything, or trying 10,000 possible passcodes. Only takes two days. If you have extra security and no backup, they will tell you that you are stuffed.

      If they followed this case, and you have a backup but not a recent one, they will tell you to take your iPhone back home to the WiFi network it knows, plug it into power, and it will start backing up to iCloud. That works even when it is locked. So when that is done, you can then erase your phone and restore from the iCloud backup. Saved.

      That's what happens if it happens to you out of forgetfulness. And the exact same thing happens to San Bernardino County when they borrowed their iPhone to a terrorist who got himself killed and can't unlock the phone anymore.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. LDS Silver badge

    My question is: why Apple gave away the phone backups, but refuses to access the phone?

    Rights should not depend on the device data are stored onto, and how difficult is to access it.

    If Apple believes my data shouldn't be accessible but by me, it should protect my backups on its "cloud" exactly the same way it is asserting it has to protect them on a phone.

    Instead Apple gave away the backups, but refuses to help to unlock the phone. It looks to me privacy rights are not at the core of this fighting, but something else, that has much more to do with money. As you should expect from any company. But people will look at the finger...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: My question is: why Apple gave away the phone backups, but refuses to access the phone?

      I refer the hon. gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago. A summons requires a witness to produce some evidence they might have. Apple have the backup which might be evidence. This is a demand for Apple to produce something that they don't have and which isn't evidence.

    2. Neil Alexander

      Re: My question is: why Apple gave away the phone backups, but refuses to access the phone?

      The law can compel them to hand over data to which they have access. The law hasn't yet successfully compelled them to create the ability to hand over data which they currently can't access.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My question is: why Apple gave away the phone backups, but refuses to access the phone?

      If Apple believes my data shouldn't be accessible but by me, it should protect my backups on its "cloud" exactly the same way it is asserting it has to protect them on a phone.

      Instead Apple gave away the backups, but refuses to help to unlock the phone. It looks to me privacy rights are not at the core of this fighting, but something else, that has much more to do with money. As you should expect from any company. But people will look at the finger...

      Not quite. As far as I understand it, this phone was apparently MDM managed, but someone screwed up. I suspect that the MDM management was able to reset the iCloud password as that is only software, but due to the cockup by San Bernadino, the phone PIN didn't follow which is where the FBI saw an opportunity to restart its ploy to force precedent.

    4. Vic

      Re: My question is: why Apple gave away the phone backups, but refuses to access the phone?

      Instead Apple gave away the backups, but refuses to help to unlock the phone. It looks to me privacy rights are not at the core of this fighting

      The privacy rights of the user of this ohine are not relevant - aside from the fact he's dead, he's not even the owner of the phone. But no-one has ever claimed that the case was about his rights - it isn't and never has been.

      This case is about the rights of everyone else. Everyone who has a phone - whether an Apple product or not. Whether a US citizen or not. That includes me. It probably includes you.

      To suggest that this is just Apple being churlish would seem to indicate a fairly dramatic misunderstanding of the situation...

      Vic.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't always get what you want

    But if you try sometimes well you just might find

    You get what you need

  12. Empty1
    Mushroom

    Wipe the device

    So what happens if Apple writes some software that when uploaded mangles all the data from the phone? "Ooops" It shouldn't have done that". FBI can't test it on another phone beforehand as they say it only has to work on one serial number........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wipe the device

      So what happens if Apple writes some software that when uploaded mangles all the data from the phone?

      Shhh, no spoilers. You're not supposed to give away the contents of the sequel to this.

      Two issues:

      1 - the fact that the FBI was able to force Apple to even TRY is not good news, so let's hope it never gets this far;

      2 - as this has never been done it's possible that Apple indeed makes a mess of it. However, they can test the principle beforehand on another 5C, so they don't have that much of a defence other than stating that San Bernadino screwing up the configuration would have left the device in an unstable state. As the FBI is unable to access the phone itself, it is by extension stating that it lacks the expertise to assess the veracity of Apple's statement, and they thus get off on the principle that they are innocent until proven guilty or until the FBI changes that fundamental principle too because too many terrorists are getting away as a consequence (logical extrapolation of what they're doing right now, why stop when you have already violated one basic principle?).

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Wipe the device

        The proposed court order says that Apple should create a hack that only works on that one iPhone. So you couldn't try it on another iPhone.

        Actually, I think Apple could do that. They would need the iPhone in question. Every iPhone has an encryption key built into the CPU, which is why the FBI cannot just load everything into a supercomputer and start cracking. Nobody can read that encryption key, but if you encrypt any data with it and record how it was encrypted, you can use that to check if code is running on the same CPU.

        So Apple could obey that order by writing firmware that first checks if it is running on the terrorists CPU. If it does then it removes the extra security, as requested. If it doesn't, then it removes the extra security as well, but instead of checking the passcode that is enter, it always checks the passcode 0000. So it works only on one phone, lets the FBI tap in numbers for years. Send the bill to the FBI, which should be significant six digits. Destroy all traces of the code. And handle the next request in the same way.

        Before anyone says that would be evil: That's exactly what the proposed court order tells them to do.

        1. Lucasjkr

          Re: Wipe the device

          >The proposed court order says that Apple should create a hack that only works on that one iPhone. So you couldn't try it on another iPhone.

          The phones serial number is just a code variable. Obviously they'd use a different phone, with that phones unique properties in place in the code, to test their application before deploying it to the iPhone in question.

          Question is, if they gave that compiled code to the FBI, what's to stop them from reverse engineering it to allow them to change those variable at will?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Friday morning rant

    what a c**t

    FBI told Apple they can have the phone, do what they need to do behind closed doors and just give the info the the FBI.

    Now we get that feckless t**t Cook making out that complying will endanger the safety of the entire world.

    Apple are also lobbying hard to get the US to lower their tax rate to 5% for money brought into the US from abroad, instead the US should simply fine Apple the $160Bn they have hidden offshore...

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First Amendment.

      Really wish I could be around to see the expression on the judges face, when one of Apple's lawyers tries to argue that in court. The term grasping at straws doesn't even begin to cover it. If that's seriously the best they can come up with, Tim Cook better start packing his bag now, cos he's heading to the clink real soon if he doesn't cave in.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: First Amendment.

        "The term grasping at straws doesn't even begin to cover it ... Tim Cook better start packing his bag now, cos he's heading to the clink"

        These two don't fit together; the first part suggests you think you have a stronger grasp of the legal issues than Apple's lawyers, but the second part suggests you don't even realise that Apple is, by challenging the ruling, behaving in a perfectly legal manner. I have to conclude that the latter suggests you are not quite the legal eagle implicitly asserted in the former.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is quite possible that the FBI have already examined the phone, determined that it contains no useful data (which seems highly likely anyway), and decided instead to try to use it to get a legal precedent in this area. This has the additional benefit of distracting attention from their handling of the original crime.

  17. Brian Miller

    FBI screwed up, wants fix

    The FBI had the PIN changed for them. If they hadn't done this, they could have has access to all of the files on the phone, no problem. The phone would have done its automatic backups, and all would have been well and good.

    However, the PIN has been changed, and it's going to take real effort on Apple's part to write a patched OS that will allow the FBI to use a USB connection to brute-force the PIN. Of course, Apple wants its phones (60% of its business income) to be seen as secure. Apple has the money to put up the fight, and I'm glad they are doing it.

    Is this a 1st and 5th amendment issue? Well, if it's the only leg Apple has to stand on, then that's what they'll use. The government should not be able to coerce the private citizens to toil for whatever it desires. While this is about weakening security, it is also about slavery. What else is forced compulsion of labor?

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: FBI screwed up, wants fix

      Sorry, but it's the iCloud password that was changed (in order to let the FBI look at things stored on iCloud, which was totally unneccessary because Apple gave them that data anyway). So the locked phone doesn't know the right password anymore to connect to iCloud backup. And to enter the password on the phone you have to unlock it first.

  18. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Tim Cook < Steve Jobs.

    With what he thinks is all that clever media posturing, Tim Cook has both missed and opportunity and shot himself in the foot. Cook risks alienating patriotic customers if he wins - probably not a big risk to iBone sales. But if he loses, after painting such a dire picture of a losing outcome, he risks everyone assuming his phone products are "insecure", especially as the average mobile owner is about as security-tech-savvy as a Norwegian Blue. And he has alienated the FBI and other authority figures in the process.

    This affair simply shows why Jobs was such a superior Dictator In Chief as Jobs would have turned this all to Apple's advantage. Firstly, he would have secretly agreed to the hack to get the FBI off his back long before it got to a court order. But he would have waited a while before leaking the news to stir the market, making sure the leak could not be traced back to him. Then he would have released a new range of iBones which he could claim were immune to the hack, giving the iTards a new reason to upgrade and slavishly pay more iTax!

    This is why Apple is doomed under Cook.

    1. Lucasjkr

      Re: Tim Cook < Steve Jobs.

      Wrong.

      If he wins, he and his company are the guys that fought on behalf of their users all the way to the Supreme Court

      If he loses, Apples standing is no worse than any others, because if their hand can be forced, so can everyone else's.

      Apple can only stand to win or draw in this argument, not lose, save for, as you said, maybe a few ultra patriotic customers. The same ones that renamed French fries to freedom fries, probably.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why FBI?

    Q: Why is the FBI handling this in the first place? Both perps in the San Bernardino shootings had fairly recent foreign terrorist connections, or at least associations, and that makes it a national security issue/case, and therefore in the purview of the NSA. Now, NSA has far better and more divers talents in digital systems than either Apple or the FBI, plus cryptanalysts and the serious computer horsepower if needed, to access the contents of the phone in question. They likely already have models and simulations of all popular smart phones. It's not like the hardware of the iPhone is some kind of mystery, or decompiling OSs a new technology, or rocket science.

    Why did the ex-head of the NSA, not a politically ignorant fellow, come out with his opinion this week? Quite possibly to head off the kind of push toward NSA that I suggest in my Q above. If they do have the abilities that I suspect they have, then they would not like to reveal that fact to anyone.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC Have Your Say

    Jesus, reading this is like being in the middle of one of those BBC Have Your Say pieces.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem solved....

    http://bgr.com/2015/10/12/iphone-android-smurf-spy-malware/

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Zombies a.k.a. paying customers

    Maybe apple doesn't want their customers to turn into Zombies...

    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/nsa-iphone-slides-in-der-spiegel-2013-9

    If Apple gives in this time, they'll find themselves being ridiculed in yet another Government Agency's slide deck....

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