Apple resisting order to help hack San Bernardino shooter's iPhone

WASHINGTON -- Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday his company will resist a federal magistrate's order to hack its users in connection with the investigation of the San Bernardino, California shootings, asserting such a move would undermine encryption by creating a backdoor that could potentially be used on other future devices.

See Full Article

Cook's ferocious response, posted early Wednesday on the company's website, came after an order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym that Apple Inc. help the Obama administration break into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in the December attack.

The first-of-its-kind ruling was a significant victory for the Justice Department in a technology policy debate that pits digital privacy against national security interests.

Noting the order Tuesday from federal Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in California, Cook said "this moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake."

Cook argued that the order "has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."

Pym ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.., and setting the stage for a legal fight between the federal government and Silicon Valley over a first-of-its-kind ruling.

The order directing Apple to help the FBI break into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardo shooters represents a significant victory for the Justice Department. The Obama administration has embraced stronger encryption as a way to keep consumers safe on the Internet, but struggled to find a compelling example to make its case.

Cook said in the website posting that the U.S. government order would undermine encryption by using specialized software to create an essential back door that he compared to a "master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks."

"In the wrong hands, this software - which does not exist today - would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," Cook wrote. "The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a back door. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control."

FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress last week that encryption is a major problem for law enforcement who "find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it."

The ruling Tuesday tied the problem to the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a Dec. 2 shooting at a holiday luncheon for Farook's co-workers. The couple later died in a gun battle with police.

Federal prosecutors told the judge in a court proceeding Tuesday - that was conducted without Apple being allowed to participate - that investigators can't access a work phone used by Farook because they don't know his passcode and Apple has not cooperated. Under U.S. law, a work phone is generally the property of a person's employer. The judge told Apple to provide an estimate of its cost to comply with her order, suggesting that the government will be expected to pay for the work.

Apple has provided default encryption on its iPhones since 2014, allowing any device's contents to be accessed only by the user who knows the phone's passcode.

The ruling by Pym, a former federal prosecutor, requires Apple to supply highly specialized software the FBI can load onto the county-owned work iPhone to bypass a self-destruct feature, which erases the phone's data after too many unsuccessful attempts to unlock it. The FBI wants to be able to try different combinations in rapid sequence until it finds the right one.

It was not immediately clear what investigators believe they might find on Farook's work phone or why the information would not be available from third-party service providers, such as Google or Facebook, though investigators think the device may hold clues about whom the couple communicated with and where they may have traveled.

The couple took pains to physically destroy two personally owned cell phones, crushing them beyond the FBI's ability to recover information from them. They also removed a hard drive from their computer; it has not been found despite investigators diving for days for potential electronic evidence in a nearby lake.

Farook was not carrying his work iPhone during the attack. It was discovered after a subsequent search. It was not known whether Farook forgot about the iPhone or did not care whether investigators found it.

The phone was running the newest version of Apple's iPhone operating system, which requires a passcode and cannot be accessed by Apple, unlike earlier operating systems or older phone models. San Bernardino County provided Farook with an iPhone configured to erase data after 10 consecutive unsuccessful unlocking attempts. The FBI said that feature appeared to be active on Farook's iPhone as of the last time he performed a backup.

The judge didn't spell out her rationale in her three-page order, but the ruling comes amid a similar case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Investigators are still working to piece together a missing 18 minutes in Farook and Malik's timeline from Dec. 2. Investigators have concluded they were at least partly inspired by the Islamic State group; Malik's Facebook page included a note pledging allegiance to the group's leader around the time of the attack.

In 2014, Apple updated its iPhone operating system to require that the phone be locked by a passcode that only the user knows. Previously, the company could use an extraction tool that would physically plug into the phone and allow it to respond to search warrant requests from the government.

FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress last week that encryption is a major problem for law enforcement who "find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Your name is, ma’am?'; Accused cop killer interrupts judge while facing new charges

    World News Toronto Sun
    ORLANDO, Fla. — A day after an expletive-laced court appearance on charges he killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend, a fugitive was more subdued but still interrupted and refused to answer questions when he went before a judge Friday on five new charges filed against him in the death of an Orlando police officer. Source
  • Tim Hortons co-founder loses bid to have sex-assault suit tossed

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — A woman’s lawsuit alleging that the billionaire co-founder of Tim Hortons sexually assaulted her at his home will have to be decided at a full-blown trial, Ontario’s top court ruled Friday. Ron Joyce, 86, who has painted the woman with whom he had a one-time intimate relationship as a “pathological extortionist,” had wanted the Court of Appeal to find he had already paid his 36-year-old accuser to stop pushing the assault allegation before she sued him for $7.5 million in 2013. Source
  • New Jersey cop left out gun daughter, 8, used to kill herself

    World News Toronto Sun
    STRATFORD, N.J. — Authorities say a New Jersey police officer left his personal .357-calibre revolver loaded and unsecured on a shelf before his 8-year-old daughter fatally shot herself. The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office announced child endangerment charges Friday against Kenneth Righter, of Stratford. Source
  • Mars investigating Skittles said to be intended for cattle

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A mysterious Skittles spill on a rural highway in Wisconsin is taking another twist, with Mars Inc. saying it doesn't know why the discarded candy might have been headed to become cattle feed. Source
  • Floating strip club owner says he was unfairly targeted

    World News Toronto Sun
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska man convicted of illegally dumping human waste into a harbour while operating a floating strip club said Friday he plans to appeal whatever sentence is imposed Friday afternoon. Hours before his sentencing following his conviction on federal charges that could land him in prison, Darren Byler claimed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he was targeted because of disapproval over the business he ran on the 94-foot “Wild Alaskan,” a converted…
  • Pepper spray and stun grenades: Confrontation near Trump parade route escalates [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to fill the nation’s capital for the inauguration of Donald Trump, and while the majority of those expected in Washington on Friday will be there to celebrate, some protesters say their plan is to do their best to disrupt the day. Source
  • Group plans interactive Titanic museum for Niagara Falls

    Canada News CTV News
    An interactive museum that hopes to recreate the experience of sailing on board the Titanic may be coming to Canada. A group in Niagara Falls, Ont., has conditionally purchased land that would house the museum and is moving ahead with plans to launch an exhibit dubbed "Experience Titanic. Source
  • God Bless America, Mourning in America: Dueling social media trends on inauguration day

    World News CTV News
    As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America on Friday, social media exploded with people reacting to the momentous event. “God Bless America,” “Mourning in America,” “Donald J. Source
  • God Bless America, Mourning in America: Duelling social media trends on inauguration day

    World News CTV News
    As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America on Friday, social media exploded with people reacting to the momentous event. “God Bless America,” “Mourning in America,” “Donald J. Source
  • Tim Hortons billionaire co-founder loses bid to have sex-assault suit tossed

    Canada News CTV News
    GRAPHIC CONTENT warning: Some of the details in this story are disturbing. TORONTO -- A woman's lawsuit alleging that the billionaire co-founder of Tim Hortons sexually assaulted her at his home will have to be decided at a full-blown trial, Ontario's top court ruled Friday. Source