Apple challenges court order to decrypt criminal’s iPhone

A few years ago, Apple began making iPhones with additional encryption software that they could not unlock, all in the name of consumer privacy and cybersecurity.

A U.S. federal magistrate has recently ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The judge has ordered Apple to make it easier for federal agents to randomly guess the suspects’ iPhone passcode (Apple has built a security feature so that an Iphone slows down anyone trying to “brute force” his way by guessing passcode after passcode).

Apple is opposing the order, as it has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. It has published a letter explaining how the United States government has demanded that it take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of customers. Apple states:

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. 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.

Apple is calling for a public discussion on this issue, which is linked to the debate between national security and privacy.

I was interviewed by radio host Michel Auger on this issue today. To listen to the interview, please click here (French only).

I was also on tonight’s news to discuss these issues. (French only).

This content has been updated on February 17, 2016 at 22 h 53 min.