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Apple refuses court order to help FBI unlock IPhone of San Bernadino terrorists

February 17, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Apple refuses court order to help FBI unlock IPhone of San Bernadino terrorists

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Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is refusing to abide by a judge’s court order to help the FBI break into the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists in a public letter calling the move “an overreach by the U.S. government.”

Syed Farook, along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December. Both died in a gun battle with Police.

Cook warned that complying with the order would have to include building “a backdoor to the IPhone, something we consider too dangerous to create.”

“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users. Such actions would undermine decades of security advancements aimed at protecting our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” the letter reads.

The CEO added that to do so would potentially render millions of devices vulnerable, “No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

Cook said Apple wants to raise the issue in a public discussion and with the “deepest respect to American Democracy and love of country” is challenging the FBI’s demands.

“We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications,” the letter read.

Because of the user-generated numeric passcode, FBI investigators had been unable to search Farook’s device.

The U.S. government explained in court filings that Apple’s IOS includes an auto-erase function that leads to the information on the IPhone becoming permanently inaccessible after 10 failed attempts at inputting the passcode.

“We have made a solemn commitment to the victims and their families that we will leave no stone unturned as we gather as much information and evidence as possible. These victims and families deserve nothing less,” Eileen Decker, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, said in a statement in response to the court order.

“The motion filed today in federal court is another step — a potentially significant step — in the process of learning everything we possibly can about the attack in San Bernardino.”

According to Apple, the FBI had petitioned the tech giant to construct a newer version of the iPhone operating system which would bypass the principal security measures installed on Farook’s phone.

“If this software — which does not exist today, ended up in the wrong hands, it would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” Cook’s letter said.

Although the FBI stopped short in describing it as a request for a backdoor into the iPhone, adhering with the court order would “undeniably” create one, and cannot guarantee to limit its use to the Farook case, Apple indicated.

“Despite government suggestions that such a tool could only be used once and on one phone. It would not be the case because once created; the technique could be utilized over and over again, on any number of devices,” it said.

Cook added, “the same engineers who constructed the IPhone’s strong encryption code to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.”

“There is no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack,” the letter read.

Cook insisted that “We have no sympathy for terrorists,” adding that it did not oppose the order lightly,” and stressed that Apple has assisted the FBI with similar requests in the past.

But it stated that what the FBI was proposing is “unprecedented use” of law dating from 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority, the implications of which were “chilling.”

“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data,” it said.

“The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple builds surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

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