PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org

PHNO SCIENCE & INFOTECH NEWS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports)

APPLE CEO COOK: U.S. SHOULD WITHDRAW DEMAND FOR iPHONE HACK HELP


COOK WASHINGTON - Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said in an email to employees Monday that the U.S. government should withdraw its demand that Apple help the FBI hack a locked iPhone used by a shooter in last year's deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California. The message is accompanied by an online question and answer page that reiterates many of the comments Cook made in a public letter after a magistrate judge's order last week. It also brushes aside several key government claims, including an assertion that the company was acting out of business interests in saying it would not cooperate with an FBI investigation of the shootings. A U.S. magistrate has ordered the company to break its iPhone security protocols to assist federal officials probing the December shootings. The emerging legal fight has sparked a debate on government power, privacy, digital rights, public safety and security. The county-owned iPhone was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people during the attack. Cook states in the letter to employees that the company has "no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists" and believes abiding by the judge's order would be unlawful and an expansion of government powers, and would set a dangerous precedent that would essentially create a backdoor to the encrypted iPhone. "This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation," Cook wrote. READ MORE...

ALSO: Bill Gates thinks Apple should help unlock an iPhone for the FBI


Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images.
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates believes Appl should help unlock an iPhone for the FBI.
Gates is the latest powerful tech leader to voice his opinions on the heated security debate that has arisen after Apple announced it wasn’t going to assist the FBI hack into an iPhone 5C that belonged to a suspected terrorist. The Microsoft cofounder told The Financial Times on Monday that Apple should comply with the FBI, dismissing Cook’s claims that it will set a wider precedent of law enforcement agencies hacking into citizen’s phones. “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Gates said. “It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said ‘don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times.'” A US judge last week ordered Apple to assist the FBI in its attempt to access encrypted data on the iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the two San Bernardino shooters. But Apple argues doing so would create a dangerous precedent and make all iPhone users less safe. CEO Tim Cook argues that the move “would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.” Silicon Valley executives including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have all endorsed Cook’s decision. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is yet to comment on the matter but the Reform Government Surveillance organisation, of which Microsoft is a member, opposes the order. READ MORE...

ALSO: U.S. DEPT OF JUSTICE FILES MOTION TO FORCE APPLE TO HACK IPHONE IN SAN BERNARDINO CASE


A man walks past an Apple store in Beijing. The global technology giant has pledged to fight a judicial order for it to decrypt the information on one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhones. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT filed a motion this morning asking a federal court to compel Apple to comply with a magistrate’s order that it help the FBI hack into an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooter suspects. A federal magistrate initially gave Apple five business days to respond to her order, released on Tuesday, but the Justice Department decided not to wait for Apple’s response, noting in its motion today that Apple CEO Tim Cook had already indicated in a public statement posted to Apple’s web site Tuesday that his company would not comply. “The government does not seek to deny Apple its right to be heard, and expects these issues to be fully briefed before the Court; however, the urgency of this investigation requires this motion now that Apple has made its intention not to comply patently clear,” the Justice Department wrote in its 35-page motion (.pdf). The government takes issue with Cook characterizing the FBI’s request as a demand for a “back door to every iPhone” and also says the request does not amount to Apple hacking its own customers. Nor, the government says, will the tool the FBI wants Apple to create to assist the agency with hacking the phone, open the way for hackers and other criminals to hack iPhones. The government says that Apple’s recalcitrance appears to be based on nothing more than “its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.” “Apple has attempted to design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data which has been found by this Court to be warranted for an important investigation,” the Justice Department writes. “Despite its efforts, Apple nonetheless retains the technical ability to comply with the Order, and so should be required to obey it.” READ MORE...

ALSO: High-profile attorney Ted Olson joins Apple's fight against FBI terror probe


Prominent lawyer Ted Olson, seen in 2012, has joined Apple's effort to fight a judge's order calling on the firm to help the FBI gain access to data on a cellphone used by the San Bernardino terrorists. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press) Legal titan Ted Olson has signed on to help Apple Inc. fight a court order requiring the tech giant to assist the FBI in unlocking a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, court records show. Olson's involvement underscores the potential historic nature of the legal dispute, which pits issues of national security with those of consumer privacy. At the FBI's request, a U.S. judge in Riverside on Tuesday ordered Apple to help with a key part of the San Bernardino probe by developing software to hack into one of its own devices, an iPhone 5c, used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and wounded 22 others before dying in a shootout with police. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said that obeying the order would set a dangerous precedent, and that creating a "backdoor" to its own security systems could compromise the security of billions of customers. READ MORE...

ALSO: NY TIMES EDITORIAL - Why Apple Is Right to Challenge an Order to Help the F.B.I.


Tim Cook Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Advertisement
It is understandable that federal investigators want to unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. And it’s understandable that the government would turn to Apple for help. But Apple is doing the right thing in challenging the federal court ruling requiring that it comply. In an order issued on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym says Apple must create new software that would bypass security features on the iPhone used by the terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook. That would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to unlock the device and retrieve the pictures, messages and other data on it. Her ruling was based on the All Writs Act of 1789, which is used to require people or businesses not involved in a case to execute court orders. Another federal magistrate judge in New York is considering a similar request to unlock an iPhone in a narcotics case. Law enforcement agencies have a legitimate need for evidence, which is all the more pressing in terrorism cases. But the Constitution and the nation’s laws limit how investigators and prosecutors can collect evidence. In a 1977 case involving the New York Telephone Company, the Supreme Court said the government could not compel a third party that is not involved in a crime to assist law enforcement if doing so would place “unreasonable burdens” on it. Judge Pym’s order requiring Apple to create software to subvert the security features of an iPhone places just such a burden on the company. READ MORE...

ALSO: Apple Pushes iPhone Standoff Toward Congress or Supreme Court


FEBRUARY 26 -(Bloomberg) --The fight over Apple Inc.'s refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by a terrorist in California is destined for Washington. The fight over Apple Inc.’s refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by a terrorist in California is destined for Washington. The only question is whether it will be Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court that breaks the impasse. Apple argues the Justice Department is overstepping its authority by forcing the company to help disable the encryption on an iPhone used by one of the two shooters who killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. The company’s argument that lawmakers failed to give prosecutors the power they are seeking reveals a gambit that the Supreme Court will side with it on privacy and block an attempt to make it a “hacking” department for the government. Apple said Thursday in its first response in court to a judge’s order to help the government that relying on a law that predates smartphones by more than two centuries is unprecedented and threatens the civil liberties of hundreds of millions of mobile phone users. That law, the All Writs Act of 1789, has been used by prosecutors to obtain court orders to enforce search warrants where there’s a legal vacuum. Apple contends Congress has had the chance to expand the power of law enforcement to access encrypted data on smartphones and hasn’t. Receptive Court The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2014 that police must get a warrant before searching a mobile phone. Chief Justice John Roberts, in a ruling that indicates Apple may have a receptive audience for its privacy arguments, said cell phones weren’t merely a technological convenience. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Roberts said. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Apple CEO: US should withdraw demand for iPhone hack help


COOK

WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 29, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  By Tami Abdollah (Associated Press) February 22, 2016 - Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said in an email to employees Monday that the U.S. government should withdraw its demand that Apple help the FBI hack a locked iPhone used by a shooter in last year's deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California. The message is accompanied by an online question and answer page that reiterates many of the comments Cook made in a public letter after a magistrate judge's order last week. It also brushes aside several key government claims, including an assertion that the company was acting out of business interests in saying it would not cooperate with an FBI investigation of the shootings.

A U.S. magistrate has ordered the company to break its iPhone security protocols to assist federal officials probing the December shootings.

The emerging legal fight has sparked a debate on government power, privacy, digital rights, public safety and security.

The county-owned iPhone was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people during the attack.

Cook states in the letter to employees that the company has "no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists" and believes abiding by the judge's order would be unlawful and an expansion of government powers, and would set a dangerous precedent that would essentially create a backdoor to the encrypted iPhone.

"This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation," Cook wrote.

READ MORE...

"At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone's civil liberties."

The email acknowledges that it is technically possible for Apple to do what the judge ordered, but that it's "something we believe is too dangerous to do."

Apple also points to the difficulty of keeping such a "master key" safe once it has been created. The government has said that Apple could keep the specialized technology it would create to help officials hack the phone, bypassing a security time delay and feature that erases all data after 10 consecutive, unsuccessful attempts to guess the unlocking passcode.

If the company's engineers were to do as ordered, Apple would do its best to protect the technology, but Cook said the company "would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals."

"The only way to guarantee such a powerful tool isn't abused and doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to never create it," Apple states in the memo.

The company has until Friday to formally protest the ruling in court.

FBI Director James Comey said in an online post Sunday that Apple owes investigative cooperation to the victims and said the dispute wasn't about creating legal precedent.

"We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That's it," Comey wrote. "We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land."

Cook said the government should withdraw its demand to the judge and form a group to discuss the issues brought up by this case. He said Apple would participate in such an undertaking.


BUSINESS INSIDER AUSTRALIA

Bill Gates thinks Apple should help unlock an iPhone for the FBI SAM SHEAD IN 13 HOURS 2 FACEBOOK2 TWITTER REDDIT LINKEDIN GOOGLE+


Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates believes Appl should help unlock an iPhone for the FBI.

Gates is the latest powerful tech leader to voice his opinions on the heated security debate that has arisen after Apple announced it wasn’t going to assist the FBI hack into an iPhone 5C that belonged to a suspected terrorist.

The Microsoft cofounder told The Financial Times on Monday that Apple should comply with the FBI, dismissing Cook’s claims that it will set a wider precedent of law enforcement agencies hacking into citizen’s phones.

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Gates said.

“It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said ‘don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times.'”

A US judge last week ordered Apple to assist the FBI in its attempt to access encrypted data on the iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the two San Bernardino shooters. But Apple argues doing so would create a dangerous precedent and make all iPhone users less safe. CEO Tim Cook argues that the move “would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Silicon Valley executives including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have all endorsed Cook’s decision. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is yet to comment on the matter but the Reform Government Surveillance organisation, of which Microsoft is a member, opposes the order.

READ MORE...

Cook wrote an open letter last week saying he would fight the FBI over its demand to build what Apple alleges is a backdoor in the iPhone.

The FBI wants Apple to remove the limit on the number of times the phone’s passcode can be tried before the data on the phone is automatically erased. It also wants Apple to modify its iOS operating system so passcodes can be input electronically. Apple argues that this workaround would later be open to abuse.

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone,” Cook’s letter read. “But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

FBI Director James Comey published a blog post on the specialist legal site Lawfare on Sunday titled “We Could Not Look the Survivors in the Eye if We Did Not Follow this Lead.”

“The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message,” wrote Comey in the blog. “It is about the victims and justice.”


WIRED MAGAZINE

U.S. DEPT OF JUSTICE FILES MOTION TO FORCE APPLE TO HACK IPHONE IN SAN BERNARDINO CASE AUTHOR: KIM ZETTER. KIM ZETTER SECURITY DATE OF PUBLICATION: 02.19.16. 02.19.16 TIME OF PUBLICATION: 3:02 PM. 3:02 PM


A man walks past an Apple store in Beijing. The global technology giant has pledged to fight a judicial order for it to decrypt the information on one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhones. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT filed a motion this morning asking a federal court to compel Apple to comply with a magistrate’s order that it help the FBI hack into an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooter suspects.

A federal magistrate initially gave Apple five business days to respond to her order, released on Tuesday, but the Justice Department decided not to wait for Apple’s response, noting in its motion today that Apple CEO Tim Cook had already indicated in a public statement posted to Apple’s web site Tuesday that his company would not comply.

“The government does not seek to deny Apple its right to be heard, and expects these issues to be fully briefed before the Court; however, the urgency of this investigation requires this motion now that Apple has made its intention not to comply patently clear,” the Justice Department wrote in its 35-page motion (.pdf).

The government takes issue with Cook characterizing the FBI’s request as a demand for a “back door to every iPhone” and also says the request does not amount to Apple hacking its own customers. Nor, the government says, will the tool the FBI wants Apple to create to assist the agency with hacking the phone, open the way for hackers and other criminals to hack iPhones.

The government says that Apple’s recalcitrance appears to be based on nothing more than “its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”

“Apple has attempted to design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data which has been found by this Court to be warranted for an important investigation,” the Justice Department writes. “Despite its efforts, Apple nonetheless retains the technical ability to comply with the Order, and so should be required to obey it.”

READ MORE...

As WIRED pointed out this week in a detailed description of what the government wants, the FBI is not asking Apple to unlock the iPhone in question but instead to write a new software tool—essentially a crippled version of its iOS software—to eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data. With that software installed on the phone, it would allow the FBI to perform a brute-force password-cracking attack on the phone in an attempt to unlock it and retrieve encrypted data stored on it.

In its motion today, DoJ provided a series of counterarguments to all of the arguments it expects Apple might make in its response to the court next week. In particular, the government said that writing the software tool it requests would not be burdensome to Apple, since the tech giant “writes software code as part of its regular business.”

What’s more, DoJ notes, Apple CEO Tim Cook never said in his message on Tuesday that the request was technically infeasible or burdensome.

“At no point has Apple ever said that it does not have the technical ability to comply with the Order, or that the Order asks Apple to undertake an unreasonably challenging software development task. On this point, Apple’s silence speaks volumes,” DoJ wrote in the motion.

Shortly after news of the new motion broke, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump reportedly called on the public to boycott Apple until it gives in to the government’s request.

In the meantime, the fight between the government and Apple got even more high-profile today when the Los Angeles Times reported that Apple has retained renowned Washington attorney Ted Olson to help in its fight over the phone-hacking order.

Olson famously represented George W. Bush in his presidential election Supreme Court battle—Bush vs. Gore—which helped Bush win the 2000 presidential campaign. Olson also fought a successful battle against California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.

The addition of Olson to the Apple team suggests the fight over the San Bernardino phone could eventually head to the Supreme Court.


LOS ANGELES TIMES

High-profile attorney Ted Olson joins Apple's fight against FBI terror probe Taylor Goldenstein Taylor GoldensteinContact Reporter  Times staff writer Maura Dolan contributed to this report. Twitter: @taygoldenstein


P
rominent lawyer Ted Olson, seen in 2012, has joined Apple's effort to fight a judge's order calling on the firm to help the FBI gain access to data on a cellphone used by the San Bernardino terrorists. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Legal titan Ted Olson has signed on to help Apple Inc. fight a court order requiring the tech giant to assist the FBI in unlocking a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, court records show.

Olson's involvement underscores the potential historic nature of the legal dispute, which pits issues of national security with those of consumer privacy.

At the FBI's request, a U.S. judge in Riverside on Tuesday ordered Apple to help with a key part of the San Bernardino probe by developing software to hack into one of its own devices, an iPhone 5c, used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and wounded 22 others before dying in a shootout with police.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said that obeying the order would set a dangerous precedent, and that creating a "backdoor" to its own security systems could compromise the security of billions of customers.

READ MORE...

Apple CEO says helping FBI hack into terrorist's iPhone would be 'too dangerous' Apple CEO says helping FBI hack into terrorist's iPhone would be 'too dangerous' "Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them," Cook wrote in a letter published on the company's website. "But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create."

Olson and Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. are the attorneys of record representing Apple, according to a court filing. Boutrous and Olson worked together to fight California’s previous ban on same-sex marriage.

Olson is best known for successfully arguing on behalf of George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush vs. Gore, which decided the 2000 presidential election, and for challenging California’s Proposition 8, the measure that banned gay marriage, before the Supreme Court.

The Bush vs. Gore decision handed the presidency to Bush over then-Vice President Al Gore by putting an end to ballot recounts of Florida’s disputed election results.

Olson, 75, a Republican, had unexpectedly teamed up with David Boies, a Democrat and his opposing counsel in the Bush vs. Gore case, in the successful legal battle to overturn Proposition 8 in 2013.

Olson has also held several government offices, including assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel under President Reagan from 1981 to 1984 and solicitor general under Bush from 2001 to 2004.

His wife, Barbara, a lawyer and conservative commentator, was killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She was a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

In the government motion, the FBI argued that Farook intentionally disabled the phone's iCloud backup function six weeks before the Dec. 2 terror attack at the Inland Regional Center. Any communications during that time that may be linked to the shooting, as well as location data that might help the FBI map the movements of Farook and his wife before and after the attack, are accessible only through the phone itself, the government said.

Investigators were able to retrieve some data from previous iCloud backups, and companies like Apple normally comply with requests to retrieve cloud data because they do not involve giving the government access to company servers or altering software.

The San Bernardino County Department of Health, which employed Farook, actually owned the device and gave the FBI permission to search it, according to court filings.

The court order handed down Tuesday would require Apple to provide the FBI with a "recovery bundle," a file that would reboot Farook's device while disabling the auto-erase feature that would normally be activated after 10 incorrect log-in attempts.

That would allow the FBI to repeatedly enter pass code guesses without risk of destroying the data on the phone.

ALSO

Apple vs. FBI is epic fight over privacy and national security


INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL

Why Apple Is Right to Challenge an Order to Help the F.B.I. By THE EDITORIAL BOARDFEB. 18, 2016 754 COMMENTS Photo


Tim Cook Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Advertisement

It is understandable that federal investigators want to unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. And it’s understandable that the government would turn to Apple for help. But Apple is doing the right thing in challenging the federal court ruling requiring that it comply.

In an order issued on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym says Apple must create new software that would bypass security features on the iPhone used by the terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook. That would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to unlock the device and retrieve the pictures, messages and other data on it. Her ruling was based on the All Writs Act of 1789, which is used to require people or businesses not involved in a case to execute court orders.

Another federal magistrate judge in New York is considering a similar request to unlock an iPhone in a narcotics case.

Law enforcement agencies have a legitimate need for evidence, which is all the more pressing in terrorism cases. But the Constitution and the nation’s laws limit how investigators and prosecutors can collect evidence.

In a 1977 case involving the New York Telephone Company, the Supreme Court said the government could not compel a third party that is not involved in a crime to assist law enforcement if doing so would place “unreasonable burdens” on it. Judge Pym’s order requiring Apple to create software to subvert the security features of an iPhone places just such a burden on the company.

READ MORE...

Apple has already given the F.B.I. data from the phone that was backed up and stored on its iCloud service; the last backup was made about a month before the attacks. But the company’s chief executive, Timothy Cook, has said that requiring it to create software to bypass a feature that causes the phone to erase its data if 10 incorrect passwords are entered would set a dangerous precedent and could undermine the security of its devices.

The Department of Justice has argued that the software would be used on that phone only and notes that Apple has previously helped law enforcement unlock phones. The company changed how it encrypts phones after the surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden.

But writing new code would have an effect beyond unlocking one phone. If Apple is required to help the F.B.I. in this case, courts could require it to use this software in future investigations or order it to create new software to fit new needs. It is also theoretically possible that hackers could steal the software from the company’s servers.-

There are certainly other ways for law enforcement agencies to collect evidence. They already have the power to get data stored on online services like iCloud and Google’s Gmail through search warrants. And they can get records of phone calls and text messages from companies like Verizon and AT&T. A recent study published by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society concluded that the proliferation of Internet-connected sensors, cameras and other devices provides the government ever-expanding opportunities to collect information about people.

Continue reading the main story Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Even if the government prevails in forcing Apple to help, that will hardly be the end of the story. Experts widely believe that technology companies will eventually build devices that cannot be unlocked by company engineers and programmers without the permission of users. Newer smartphones already have much stronger security features than the iPhone 5c Mr. Farook used.

Some officials have proposed that phone and computer makers be required to maintain access or a “back door” to encrypted data on electronic devices. In October, the Obama administration said it would not seek such legislation, but the next president could have a different position.

Congress would do great harm by requiring such back doors.

Criminals and domestic and foreign intelligence agencies could exploit such features to conduct mass surveillance and steal national and trade secrets. There’s a very good chance that such a law, intended to ease the job of law enforcement, would make private citizens, businesses and the government itself far less secure.

A version of this editorial appears in print on February 19, 2016, on page A30 of the New York edition with the headline: Apple’s Strong Stand on Encryption. Today's Paper|Subscribe


BLOOMBERG ONLINE

Apple Pushes iPhone Standoff Toward Congress or Supreme Court Edvard PetterssonEdvard Pettersson edpettersson Joel RosenblattJoel Rosenblatt February 25, 2016 — 10:44 PM EST Updated on February 26, 2016 — 10:38 AM ES


(Bloomberg) --The fight over Apple Inc.'s refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by a terrorist in California is destined for Washington.

The fight over Apple Inc.’s refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by a terrorist in California is destined for Washington. The only question is whether it will be Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court that breaks the impasse.

Apple argues the Justice Department is overstepping its authority by forcing the company to help disable the encryption on an iPhone used by one of the two shooters who killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. The company’s argument that lawmakers failed to give prosecutors the power they are seeking reveals a gambit that the Supreme Court will side with it on privacy and block an attempt to make it a “hacking” department for the government.

Apple said Thursday in its first response in court to a judge’s order to help the government that relying on a law that predates smartphones by more than two centuries is unprecedented and threatens the civil liberties of hundreds of millions of mobile phone users.

That law, the All Writs Act of 1789, has been used by prosecutors to obtain court orders to enforce search warrants where there’s a legal vacuum. Apple contends Congress has had the chance to expand the power of law enforcement to access encrypted data on smartphones and hasn’t.

Receptive Court

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2014 that police must get a warrant before searching a mobile phone. Chief Justice John Roberts, in a ruling that indicates Apple may have a receptive audience for its privacy arguments, said cell phones weren’t merely a technological convenience. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Roberts said.

READ MORE...

Whether the All Writs Act gives the U.S. the authority, once it obtains a warrant, to compel the company to write new software to unlock a mobile phone goes beyond the scope of that 2014 ruling.

“At a minimum what should happen is Congress should legislate in this area” of national security, with the courts then weighing the constitutionality of the legislation, said David Rudenstine, a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

 “We shouldn’t back-door it and allow the government to get its hands on this kind of power by relying on an 18th century statute.”

‘Playing Chess’

A former aide to the Obama administration’s national security staff said that by trying to use Congress’s inaction as an excuse to force the court to rule, Apple may be playing into the hands of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.

“The FBI is playing chess. If they win, they have a precedent for demanding assistance from Apple,” said Timothy Edgar, a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. “If they lose, they have a perfect argument to go back to Congress.”

Apple may not like what it gets from lawmakers, Edgar said.

“I just have a hard time imagining government legislation that would be to the liking of the technology industry,” Edgar said.

The dispute between Apple and the FBI is part of a larger debate within Congress, the administration and the technology industry about whether law enforcement and intelligence agencies should be able to access encrypted communications.

The issue has sharply divided lawmakers, and thwarted past efforts to reach compromise.

Prospects Unclear

Prospects for legislation aren’t clear. Any bill is likely to face opposition from technology industry executives and lawmakers sympathetic to Apple’s cause, who argue that encryption is a sensitive technical matter that can’t be addressed through broad legislation. An agreement on encryption standards has eluded lawmakers for months. Apple wants Congress to create a federal commission to study the issue.

Meanwhile, it may take anywhere from several months to two years for the case to work its way from a magistrate judge in Riverside, California, to the Supreme Court -- and there’s no guarantee the high court will agree to review it.

“The government presumably wants a quick decision as it claims this information is necessary for national security,” said Michael Risch, a law professor at Villanova University School of Law in Pennsylvania. “Apple, on the other hand, may want to stall so that the information becomes stale. That said, other such orders could come in elsewhere, so it may also want to have quick resolution.”

The first step is a court hearing set for March 22 in Riverside, where the magistrate who issued the order will consider Apple’s objections.

While the government has said it isn’t asking for a backdoor or trying to set a precedent and is only concerned with accessing the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, Apple is already fighting at least eight other attempts to force it to aid prosecutors in opening phones. The company says that if it complies with one order, others will follow and foreign governments may make similar demands.

Apple’s Switch

Justice Department attorneys are reviewing Apple’s filing and will respond appropriately in court, said spokeswoman Melanie Newman.

“The Justice Department’s approach to investigating and prosecuting crimes has remained the same; the change has come in Apple’s recent decision to reverse its long-standing cooperation in complying with All Writs Act orders.” Newman said in a statement.

Comey told a House panel that he doesn’t think phones and other devices should be “spaces immune to search warrants.”

The judge’s decision in the Apple case could influence the thinking of courts handling conflicts over encryption, he said.

One mystery the FBI would like to solve involves where the San Bernardino terrorists were for 19 minutes after the attack, Comey said. Agents have scoured security cameras at gas stations and other retailers but can’t figure it out, Comey said. He said the answer may reside on the phone, which belonged to Farook’s employer, San Bernardino County.

In Thursday’s filing, the company casts the case as “the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld; the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”

Isolation Room

Apple did a good job explaining why it would be burdensome for the company to comply with the government’s request, said Timothy Edgar, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies and Public Affairs at Brown University. Apple said experienced engineers would have to design, create, test and validate the compromised operating system, and then deploy and supervise its operation by the FBI to crack the phone’s passcode, using a “hyper-secure isolation room” to do so.

Still, he said, Apple may have a hard time backing up some of its technological arguments in court, or the U.S. in its reply may agree that compliance is difficult but demand it anyway.

Apple filed its response the day before it was due, and also before its shareholder meeting Friday in Cupertino, California.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, well-schooled in rallying investors at the company’s annual meetings, may use the forum to assert again that the company is determined to protect customers’ privacy. He’s got the technology industry’s backing, with Google and Microsoft Corp. leading the charge to submit friend-of-the-court filings.

“Apple is breaking ranks in a significant way, siding with individual consumers and users by doing what it’s doing,” Rudenstine said. He contrasted Cook’s “brave” stand with what he described as the standard practice a half century ago of communication companies complying with government requests for information without telling customers.

“Even if he loses on the merits,” Rudenstine said, “in the end he’s forcing the country to come to terms with an open and broad public debate over this important national public policy matter."

The case is In the Matter of the Search of an Apple iPhone Seized During the Execution of a Search Warrant on a Black Lexus IS300, California License Plate 35KGD203, 16-00010, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Riverside).


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
© Copyright, 2015 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved

Best viewed on IE (On Chrome & Firefox some images may be awry)


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE