Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Apple vs FBI

  1. Feb 18, 2016 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Given that we treat our phones as private, I'd say the FBI should have to go through the same steps to legally search our phones as they would to search our homes. I don't think most people object to the idea of FBI searches with valid warrants, but what the FBI is asking for now seems like it would allow law enforcement officials (and anyone else with the right info) to have a look around whenever they want without us or the proper channels ever knowing (which is as solid a violation of the Fourth Amendment as there is).

    I'd say Tim Cook is in the right, but that's just my two cents.
  4. Feb 18, 2016 #3
    "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Scott McNealy, CEO Sun Microsystems
  5. Feb 18, 2016 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Apparently you have zero freedom as well, because the FBI is trying to force you to develop software to help them.

    This isn't a story about privacy. The FBI has a warrant. They want Apple to compromise their own product.
  6. Feb 18, 2016 #5
    They want Apple to compromise the privacy promised (and possibly guaranteed) by Apple and implemented in the software of their product.
  7. Feb 18, 2016 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If Apple had the encryption keys to this guys phone they would hand them over when presented with a warrant. That's not what is being asked here. It's like asking a lock maker to purposely make malfunctioning locks because the FBI is having difficulty breaking them.
  8. Feb 18, 2016 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Legendary iPhone hacker weighs in on Apple’s war with the FBI

    Sure folks are due privacy, security and personal liberty, but this is a case where the owner(s) of the phone(s) are deceased, so there is no more privacy issue.

    I understand that there is a judicial order. I'm not sure about a warrant, but I think a court order carries the same weight.

    Also, I'm not sure that one retains a right to privacy if one is committing a crime or has committed a crime. Concealing evidence is obstruction of justice. At some point, there has to be a give to protect the General Welfare (or the welfare of many) versus the privacy of an individual who has committed a crime.

    In theory, Apple can unlock the contents at Apple without turning over the key to the FBI. That would seem reasonable if there is a court order.
  9. Feb 18, 2016 #8
    Saw an article earlier today, that apple has unlocked a phone for the government 43 previous times.
    not sure if that article was valid.
  10. Feb 19, 2016 #9
    I am concerned about the dangerous precedent of law enforcement being able force private parties into being able to helping them in their duties.

    How is this not involuntary servitude?

    If the government cannot figure out how to carry out their job, can they now force any private company or citizen into helping them?
  11. Feb 19, 2016 #10
    If I understand the issue correctly, the FBI is asking Apple to give them the means to bypass all locks made by Apple. So the issue is the privacy of all Apple users, not the privacy of deceased mass murderers.

    I presume that Apple would be willing to deliver the contents of the phone.
  12. Feb 19, 2016 #11
    Right. But my feeling is that the FBI really wants the technical ability to do it whenever they please without going back to Apple every time.

    Depending on how the information on the device needs to be used downstream, there may be chain of custody issues if the FBI gives Apple the phone and Apple simply returns hard disk or memory device with the unencrypted contents. It would be nice if the geeks could figure out how to give the FBI what they need in this specific case without giving them unbridled access to millions of devices.

    But I really believe in capitalism more than government takings by force. Why not simply make the FBI pony up whatever the geeks demand to solve their problem? If the FBI geeks are too incompetent to figure it out themselves, the FBI should have to pay whatever the geeks who can solve the problem demand for their services.
  13. Feb 19, 2016 #12
    That seems to be the case. How do they think they can get away with that? It's weird. But not unbelievable. It is quite consistent with the W and O administrations actions on privacy. They succeeded in abolishing it. Apparently they enjoy the power of the all-seeing eye so greatly that they are acting to maintain this power. Unfortunately, I can easily imagine our ever-vigilant Supreme Court protecting our rights by ruling in favor of the FBI.

    I'm not willing to sort through media articles trying to figure out what is really going on.
  14. Feb 19, 2016 #13
    The idea is that the government is the custodian of the common good. Note that up until now all major corporations have been very helpful in aiding the government in secretly breaking its own laws in the interest of national security. But enough is enough. Such huge corporations have evidently lost faith that said government is acting for the common good. Apple at least is no longer cooperating and is appealing to the legal system for protection from the executive branch.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  15. Feb 19, 2016 #14
    Apparently, the fb i has yet to rule out a third shooter which is giving them more leverage with the public hopes to opening this phone.
  16. Feb 19, 2016 #15
    It seems yesterday I read a news article saying the FBI had gained the right to use the fingerprint of a corpse to bypass security measures. I will try and find a link to this "news item", anyone else see anything on this development?.
  17. Feb 19, 2016 #16
    But the wisdom of the US Constitution is that it realizes that the common good is best served by strict limits on governmental power and strict recognition of the rights of citizens.

    Shall citizens be reduced to involuntary servitude any time the government has a technical problem or security need it cannot solve?
  18. Feb 19, 2016 #17
  19. Feb 19, 2016 #18


    Staff: Mentor

    The version I read says that they want Apple to disable the feature that disables the phone after 10 unsuccessful password attempts. That suggests that encryption is not the issue; they haven't even gotten in to the phone to see whether or not it is encrypted. That further suggests that the government is not seeking a tool for sophisticated government hackers to crack the phones of sophisticated bad guys, rather they are demanding a tool so basic that any unsophisticated redneck deputy can use it to try crack any iPhone. (I feel justified in characterizing a special agent who wants to use brute force password guessing using the touch screen as a dufus.)

    Apple says that if they create such a tool, then every law enforcement agency in the world will demand it. My guess is 20-50K agencies. And then of course, it will leak to all the bad guys too.

    Substantial civil liberties issues aside, there is a pragmatic aspect to this private/government tug of war. A recent interview of Jason Healey from Columbia University talked about his study of the long-term impact of cyber (in)security. His worst case scenario was a totally insecure Internet, with wild-west like culture, that might cause ordinary users to stop using the Internet so much. He estimated that would cost the world economy $90 trillion by 2030. Interestingly, he estimates the effect of over-policing to be symmetrical; $90 trillion dollar impact also. Over-policing can be defined as government turning the Internet into a tool to spy on people to the extent that ordinary users lose faith in their ability to communicate confidentially by electronic means.

    Government needs to be able do its job, but the public and business need secure communications and transactions too. If the private sector is asked to compromise on privacy and security all the time, then government also must be asked to give up some of the most appealing investigation tools.
  20. Feb 19, 2016 #19


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, but my understanding is that that isn't the issue here. You can't easily alter software without the source code, so it would be difficult to impossible for the government to reverse engineer the iPhone operating system. Apple can do it easily.

    Whether they should for privacy reasons is a different matter.
  21. Feb 19, 2016 #20


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't know if that is true or not, but apple did specifically attempt to design the phone so they couldn't, so they would never have to respond at all to such a warrant.
  22. Feb 19, 2016 #21
    It is truly sad that US citizens must go to such lengths in an attempt to defend their privacy against their own government.

    I can imagine a scenario where the govt gets a court order, brings in the phone, Apple cracks the code, downloads all the data, and gives it to the gov't, all under agent supervision. I don't see why Apple wouldn't do that. I take it the gov't wants a tool it can use as it pleases.
  23. Feb 19, 2016 #22
    I reject the idea that privacy has value only in terms of its economic impact. That is the least of my concerns.
  24. Feb 19, 2016 #23
    If they do, Apple can update the OS to patch any vulnerability.
  25. Feb 19, 2016 #24
    Good Lord. That means if I utilized fingerprint protection, I would be giving the gov't a motive to want me dead. I feel that this law or ruling is not in the best interests of the public.
  26. Feb 19, 2016 #25


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I respect a company that has and is willing to stand up for principles, especially when it comes to their customers' rights and promises they made to protect their interpretation of them. Though this may be as much about keeping the can of worms closed to spare their own pain.

    That said, as people can probably tell, I'm not a general believer in (or am actively opposed to) privacy/anonymity. I believe it should be based mostly on utility/necessity, in particularly when it comes to criminal activity. As a matter of law/constitutionality, there are certain, specific things that are exempt from criminal investigation and phone and written communications between criminal conspirators are not among them. Just because it is POSSIBLE to lock out the police I don't see how that should automatically make it LEGAL.

    So I see both sides of this and am not really strongly decided.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted