Governments like to trick people into selling their freedom in exchange for the promise of security, and they’re willing to exploit the fear and outrage that follows terrorist attacks to help trick them. Such is the case with last December’s attack in San Bernardino, which has prompted a federal judge to order Apple to assist the FBI with breaking into the iPhone of one of the attackers. The problem is, assisting the FBI in this instance would give the government the power to break into all iPhones, and would set a precedent that governments like those in China and Russia would undoubtedly use to make similar demands of Apple and its competitors. While making it clear that it loves its country, despises terrorists, and has nothing but respect for America’s democracy, Apple made its opposition of this order very clear in a recent statement.
Apple was ordered Tuesday by a federal judge in California to provide assistance to the FBI to search a locked iPhone 5c that was used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the terrorists said to have been involved in an attack in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2. The government’s request under a statute called the All Writs Act will likely give a boost to attempts by law enforcement to look for vendor-provided backdoors to encrypted devices and communications. Apple is fighting in a New York federal court a similar move by the Department of Justice to get the company’s help in unlocking the iPhone 5s smartphone of an alleged methamphetamine dealer. On Friday, it asked the New York court to give a final order as it has received additional similar requests from law enforcement agencies, and was advised that more such requests could come under the same statute. U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker had filed before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that despite a warrant authorizing the search and permission of Farook’s employer, who owned the phone, law enforcement had not been able to access encrypted content on the device because of its passcode. The officials said that they could not make attempts to crack the password because of a user-enabled auto-erase function in the device that would erase all encrypted data after 10 failed tries. It was not evident from the outside of the device whether the auto-erase function had been enabled.