iPhone Encryption Defended by Apple’s CEO
As a result of the mass shooting in Southern California late last year. the Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested that Apple assist law enforcement to create a backdoor to bypass the iPhone encryption that is built into each device. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, published a letter on Apple.com stating that granting the US government the access that they asked for would be, “the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks.” According to Apple, the FBI asked the company to create a new operating system that would undermine particular security features.
iPhone encryption and other security features are subjects that Apple takes great pride in. The company has spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to strengthen their privacy and security for users, and experts say that weakening encryption can only hurt those who rely on big companies like Apple to protect their data. Tim Cook has said that if Apple cooperates and provides a new version to the FBI, this will serve as precedent for future cases that will further impact the security if Apple’s loyal customers. Apple is not the only company that has been fighting battles against the government over user data. Microsoft and Google have also taken to the public about the dangers of weakening encryption, but they do not pitch privacy as a key part of their user experience like Apple does, which is why they are fighting so had to defend iPhone encryption.
Cook does admit that the intentions of the FBI are likely not malicious, but allowing the government to force them to weaken iPhone encryption undermines the freedoms that our government was created to protect. It is a very dicey situation, but for users, what exactly does it mean? If Apple does end up allowing the weakening of encryption, users may fear hackers outside of the government breaking their phones encryption. The FBI has requested the ability to have unlimited guesses to break the pass code, which may not seem like a big deal to most users, but if you lose your phone, you will soon see the drawbacks. Currently, data is wiped clean thanks to iPhone encryption if the pass code is entered incorrectly 10 times in a row; if the data was never wiped and thieves or hackers could get unlimited chances at the code, they would eventually be able to steal and abuse personal information.
The reality of the situation is that if Apple does compromise iPhone encryption, it will leave all Apple users vulnerable to possible hackers with malicious intent. Many users are siding with Apple because they enjoy their privacy, while others are outraged that iPhone encryption seems more valuable than the lives of the 16 victims of the San Bernardino shooting.