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Apple stands to defend customer’s Privacy

2016-02-18 12:30
Apple stands to defend customer’s Privacy

Posted by on February 18, 2016.

Apple has taken position on customer’s Privacy side against the FBI’s Security arguments. A judge in California ordered Apple on Tuesday to help the FBI break into the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The FBI claims, based on a Judiciary Act of 1789 to have the right to force Apple to write a software brute forcing the Apple encryption on smartphones. The FBI has required the assistance of a judge which has issued the order to give ‘reasonable assistance‘. In order to bypass privacy rights of customers, the FBI has carefully chosen a case involving the San Bernardino terrorist attack to request this software from Apple. Few memarks here:

1- The simple fact that Apple publicised this request is nearly an act of bravery. My understanding from the state of law since the US Patriot Act is that the simple fact of reveaaling such request in a terrorist case is a crime;

2- According to the security expert, Askan Soltani, the phone, an Apple iPhone 5c, had been cloud backed up until October 19, this much data has already been accessed by the FBI. They now need the more recent data password protected by the iPhone; Apple has stretengh its encryption since Edward Snowden revelations.

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3- Could FBI itself write a software bypassing the password encryption? I understand the answer is yes in principle. The difficulty is that after few wrong password, the iPhone is wiped so they do not wish to take risks. Could other companies do this, it seems that the answer would be yes again. From a conversation between Ashkan Soltani and PrivacyMatters on Twitter :

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The Security expert Bruce SCHNEIER writes : “There’s nothing preventing the FBI from writing that hacked software itself, aside from budget and manpower issues. There’s every reason to believe, in fact, that such hacked software has been written by intelligence organizations around the world. Have the Chinese, for instance, written a hacked Apple operating system that records conversations and automatically forwards them to police? They would need to have stolen Apple’s code-signing key so that the phone would recognize the hacked as valid, but governments have done that in the past with other keys and other companies. We simply have no idea who already has this capability.”

I let the tech experts dig this further. It seems like Apple itself could force older generation iPhones like this iPhone5c but not the iPhone6.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation : One feature can even erase the iPhone’s contents after 10 failed attempts to unlock it. Prosecutors say they are worried that this feature could be on the phone Farook used. And unless Apple devises a way to unlock it, they could lose all its data. The company now has five days to make its formal response in court.”

4- As many have pointed out, the danger of such a precedent is to allow repressive regimes to make use of the technology. Just like Deep Packet Inspection weakens security in the name of Child online protection or copyright fight. Once the technology is legalised, it falls on the hands of everyone to seriously threaten our liberties. What about Apple techniciens themselves extracting the information without transferring the code?

5- Finally, Apple’s open letter was a major marketing boost for Apple trust. Another case showing how privacy is not just a burden but in contrary, a big asset for companies. A nice move that will help forgetting the Error 55 Apple attack against customers repairing their device outside Apple certified dealers.

Who else is going to support Apple’s position ? so far Google and Jan Koom, CEO of WhatsApp.

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You can continue to read all comments and news here on my Pearltrees.

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