San Bernardino victims side with FBI in iPhone decryption fight

By , Feb 22, 2016

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Lawyers representing families of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting massacre plan to file a legal brief in support of the United States Department of Justice’s demand that Apple help unlock the shooter’s iPhone 5c by creating a one-off version of iOS to permit brute-force attacks electronically, without the phone slowing down the process or erasing its contents after 10 failed attempts.

According to Reuters, Stephen Larson, a former federal judge who is now in private practice and represents families of the victims, was contacted a week ago by the Justice Department and local prosecutors about representing the victims, prior to the dispute becoming public.

“They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen,” Larson said, declining to say how many victims he represents.

“We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in last week’s message to customers, adding that “We have no sympathy for terrorists”.

Arguing that creating an iPhone backdoor would be the equivalent of a master key capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks, Apple has maintained that it has “done everything that’s both within our power and within the law to help in this case.”

“We strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it,” said the firm.

Larson will file an amicus brief in court by early March.

Apple has received additional time to respond to the court order, which it plans to fight, and now has until February 26 to respond to the government’s demand. A hearing will be held at 1:00pm Pacific on March 22 in a California federal court.

How Apple protects iPhone Bloomberg infographic 001
Bloomberg’s infographic helps explain how Apple protects iPhones.

Apple’s company-wide memo and public Q&A, both of which made rounds this morning, follow its special message to customers that appeared on last week.

Signed by Tim Cook, the message vehemently opposes the FBI’s request to create a one-off version of iOS with decreased security, arguing that creating a backdoor into the iPhone would undermine everyone’s security.

According to FBI Director James Comey, the San Bernardino litigation “isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message,” it’s “about the victims and justice”.

Read our recap of last week’s events in the FBI vs. Apple case.

Source: Reuters

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  • Nathan

    The sad thing is that if Apple is forced to comply, the FBI will surely use this backdoor for more than just ‘evidence’…

    • Jackson Grong

      Yeah, no shit Sherlock

      • Nathan

        No need for vulgarity.

      • Jackson Grong

        I’m very sorry, sorry Nathan

      • the hood

        No need for vulgarity Watson. 🙂

    • I know right, glad that San Bernardino can’t speak for all iPhone users..

  • Why exactly is Apple playing into the hands of those tin foil hat wearing nuts? Why can’t they assist in unlocking this terrorists phone?

    • ✯Mike✯

      it would violate their privacy policy.. they’re protecting their customers abroad, because this software can very well be stolen and used for horrible forces if it’s in the wrong hands

      • TechnoBuff

        Mere speculation and conjectures

      • Nicholas Oldroyd

        Your home is not private. Feds can get a court order and warrant and enter your home.

        Why should your phone be any different in such cases of dire need?

        Apple can certainly create a system in which the government can securely request to unlock a phone. Anyone who understands software and encryption technology realizes this is entirely possible.

    • It’s clearly stated in every single article written about this topic. Read them.

    • Jon20

      I get what your saying. But imagine this… rather than the FBI having the back door to all phones, by request… they can just ask for one specific one. At any time they ask Apple. That’s even worse. Remember Minority Report?… And you know how the Government is, you give them an inch… and they want the whole football field until they score what they need. Unfortunately it will be a slippery slope from then on.

      • TechnoBuff

        Minority report is a movie Mate.. Live in the real world. All of these are conjectures and speculations.

      • Jon20

        Your right, that is a movie. Just like the Data Collection the NSA is asking from all the different carriers right? Like that movie? I think you missed the point I was trying to make. Once you give them access, they can look and find a reason for anything they see fit in order to address their agenda. You’d be surprised how many laws you may be breaking that you don’t even know about, yet they will find some.

      • TechnoBuff

        Why are people getting this confused without reading the court order… regurgitating what everyone is repeating.

        I get your point about privacy vs security… FBI never asked for the software to be given to them but rather for Apple to make the software conform to the standards required for their needs which is also to be done at Apple’s facility…… No software is to be given to FBI…

        We can argue about FBI action afterwards etc but about the details of the court order, The facts with regards arent being reported properly.

        Anything different from this is simply speculation due to precedents.
        At the end of the day. the FBI will get what they want backed by the court order..

      • Palvisha Rajput

        Creating a whole version with less security that can talk to hardware, isnt a one man job, so more people involved in creating the software is equivalent to more chances of losing the method or software in wrong hands.

      • the hood

        Willy Wonka and the chocloate factory was only a movie. You can buy Willy Wonka branded chocolates.

    • Jackson Grong

      Because, it’s just a matter of time before the software falls into the hands of terrorists. The FBI was hacked many times before.

      • igorsky

        Also Snowden.

      • Nicholas Oldroyd

        Well when is the software that allows apple to sign iOS versions for downgrades going to fall into the hands of hackers and jailbreakers?

    • Because it risks privacy for every iPhone users.

    • KOZY_Gremlin_Gang

      Because the fbi doesn’t want to unlock one phone they want access to all iPhones and they’re using terrorism to do scare people into supporting it. Maybe you should read about it

      • TechnoBuff

        Did you actually read the court order or merely regurgitating what most of the tech blogs are reporting?

      • KOZY_Gremlin_Gang

        I did but I didn’t even need to to find out they’re asking for a backdoor to iOS software if you think that’s ok then you’re an idiot

      • TechnoBuff

        I wonder who is the idiot here if you actually read your own interpretation into the court order… Calling someone an idiot for your asinine and baseless statement is interesting.

        I strongly doubt you read it but rather repeating what every blogger is saying or speculating.

        Most of what is being bandied about are speculation or people’s interpretation of what the court order said but not the actual ruling.
        Most of these are scare mongering at best.
        Access to all smartphones… FBI has to have physical access to your phone before that said software can be installed…
        This isn’t android with multiple versions out there, The only way for that so said software to even get on ANY iPhone is either through Apple servers or through jaibreaking.. Go figure!!!

    • R Maganti

      Apple has always placed its Shareholders and its customers above everything else. Steve Jobs did it before and Tim is only following SJ’s Operating Manual.

  • Chindavon

    Let’s open up Pandora’s box and see what happens. Great idea!

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      Gr8 m8!

  • Ted Forbes

    I say no. If they want to know why they were attacked, they would accept the well wide known obvious reason that is no sacred at all, THE GOVERNMENT! But of cost this is not about that, these people just want to compromise our privacy. NO! And no means NO!

    • So your saying the government is to blame for the lives of innocent people in San Bernardino? Do you realize how ridiculous you sound and your lack of grammar in that post to back it up?

      • Storm

        I’m always a big fan of users who criticise the grammar of others’ while messing up their own grammar in the process (it should be “you’re saying” in your first sentence).

      • Autocorrect, but thank you for the heads up. Less errors than his though.

      • the hood

        Everyone blames auto correct. Ted could blame auto correct as well.

      • the hood

        He only left out one ‘t’, you used the incorrect form of ‘you’re’ in your second word. For someone to criticise someone else for poor grammar whilst they make their own grammar mistakes is pure comedy. 🙂

    • TechnoBuff

      Compromise your privacy……. Easy for people to say when they weren’t the victims and unaffected.
      And when something happens.. everyone is quick to blame the government????

      • techfreak23

        Well if you really want to trace it back, the government is to blame for the current state of terrorism. Had the government not overstepped its boundaries in the past and got involved in other country’s affairs, we would not be as hated as we are today, nor would we have as big of a target on our backs. If we had just minded our own damn business and worried about what was going on within our own country, the current state of foreign affairs would not be as they are. When the government can spend BILLIONS of dollars to fight the so called “war on terror,” but they can’t spend even ONE billion to feed our hungry, to improve our infrastructure, to improve our education, to help our mentally ill citizens, or to rehabilitate our criminals, that’s when we can blame them for all of this shit.

        Apple doesn’t need to help fix the government’s mistakes at the risk of the rest of their customer’s safety and privacy. That’s up to them. You may be asking why trust Apple over the gov’t. The answer is that Apple has never given us a reason not to, but the gov’t has abused its power many many times at the cost of civil liberties.

        Also, I find it kind of ironic that they want them to circumvent the same encryption Apple has worked so hard on over the last decade, partly because Apple wanted to break into the enterprise/gov’t market but had to reach a certain level of safety to be allowed for use. If I remember correctly, I believe it was with iOS 6 that Apple got its initial certification for low level gov’t use. Then iOS 8 bumped that status another 2 levels for deeper gov’t use.

      • TechnoBuff

        I get your point on the rise of terrorism, but this is the world we live in now.
        Thinking or stating that the government should fix this sort of issues is unrealistic and can work in an alternate reality. Let us stay grounded in this reality and what is possible. The war on terror is what it is now , the issue is how we deal with the aftermath and also balance our privacy with security.
        We will be fooling ourselves to assume that we want to maintain our privacy 100% but free to share it with companies for free e.g Google, Facebook and Apple etc. its utterly irresponsible and delusional to think as such.
        What irks me is that people complaining about security have so much of their stuffs in the cloud freely accessible by anyone or good hackers.
        The point is no one has the moral high ground here. Apple is doing this for their branding and the way its being handled spells as such. FBI has their own reasons too but the court rulings stands with accommodations made for Apple. We can all make conjectures and speculations about what will happen but hasn’t happened yet.

      • techfreak23

        I agree that we WILLINGLY give these companies our data on the terms of a privacy policy. As for information in the cloud, that’s where maintaining a high level of security becomes so much more important and compromising that security has dangerous potential. We know the risks that we are taking by having our info online, but it’s that level of trust we have with those companies that keeps them in business and allows us to enjoy the services and products that we do.

        Take that iCloud attack that happened a couple of years ago where the celeb nudes got stolen. That was not Apple’s fault or their security. It was the fault of those users that had poorly crafted passwords and did not have 2 step verification turned on. Those people were specifically targeted for attack. Apple provided the tools to keep that info safe, but they were not used.

        The point here is that the gov’t is trying to force Apple to weaken that security and many of us siding with Apple see that as a huge step back and a potential privacy concern.

        You’re right though. It is conjecture and speculation, but Apple and the people that agree with them believe that it’s not worth the risk

      • the hood

        Yes your last paragraph is what’s so ironic about this situation that a movie could be made on that. Especially considering how the FBI and government are so inextricably linked.

  • nonchalont

    Great job Apple! Fbi needs to find other evidence besides looking through a phone. Do some real investigative work. I know a phone will have tons of evidence, but apples business model is to protect privacy. It’s a great model. It’s unfortunate the terrorist act happened, but Apple does not need to create a backdoor and they should not be made too.

    We’re moving to the age where the government doesn’t want people to have privacy. The govt will make it seem likes its bad, and for reasons like this; terrorist acts.

  • TwinSon

    I stand with Apple. I feel for the families of the victims, but what the FBI is suggesting isn’t the answer. Dump the phone records and find out another way.

  • TechnoBuff

    We all hide behind our computers and type away about privacy and how Apple is so right to decide about our lives. Who chose Apple to be the judge and jury on our privacy rights?? I wonder….
    Those affected sees it differently …Ask the victims

  • Jared

    Of course they do, they’re reacting based on emotion.

  • Jamessmooth

    Shocker. Of course they do. Still doesn’t make it right.

    • Xee

      …and its not going to change anything! Whats done is done. FBI stop wasting time with Apple and do your job legally and try to stop the next attack!

      Oh and FBI Director James Comey is a muppet!

  • Paul Williams

    Tim Cook- “ok bring the damn phone so we unlock it”
    1 hour later…
    Tim Cook “we Apologies…after ten times
    Trying to open it up we accidentally deleted the data :/
    FBI- ” You morons ”
    Tim- ” we told you already before, We don’t have the tools to do that and we won’t create it either ”
    Tim – “Are you interested in recycling trade program for your iphone?”

    • the hood


    • African-Techie


  • African-Techie

    I feel sorry for the victims (as an International observer), really do. It’s only natural that the victims side with the FBI – they’re deeply emotional & conflicted on the matter. It would be very surprising if the victims didn’t side with the FBI – that in itself would be a little more suspicious.

  • iByron

    Someone changed the password after the phone was in custody of law enforcement (and the original owners were dead).

    Why can’t they find who changed the password and have them open the phone?