Apple vs the FBI, Extra Details
Alrighty… So this is a follow up to my first post. I recommend reading it before diving into this post because it’ll lay the groundwork and make this whole debacle a little more understandable.
A number of people came up with some solutions that I didn’t address in the previous post, so I’m here to explain how certain scenarios would play out. Most of them come down to trust.
I don’t care. I don’t have an iPhone. I’m safe :)
Apple can’t back down now. If they do, Android would get to say they’re more secure than Apple. There is no way in hell Apple will let this happen. The market share loss would be extremely noticeable. Shareholders would love it! <end-sarcasm>
So, the only way this happens is if the courts rule in favor of the FBI, and sets a precedence for other tech companies. How long would it take before Android is forced to follow suit? Computer manufacturers? Other tech companies? Even tech that hasn’t been created would eventually end up following suit?
Fine, I’m listening… But lets say Apple does cave, what happens?
Apple Obliges and keeps the key private.
The FBI gives the phone to Apple, Apple unlocks it, then Apple gives the phone back to the FBI. Simple.
But, if we can’t trust the FBI with the key, can we trust Apple employees?
Maybe this is me being skeptical, but if a group of developers was working on the creation of a master key, how do we know we can trust them? How do we know they won’t keep a copy for themselves? Or sell it? I’m sure there would be people willing to spend millions of dollars for a piece of tech like this. I’m sure there’s more, but reading lists of questions is boring…
Also, Apple complied once, so it will comply again and again. As soon as it doesn’t comply, the FBI will go for the court order.
If the FBI gets the key once, it’ll request it again and again and again.
So the FBI gets a court order. We understand the killer, it’s definitely a win, right?
The court demands that Apple creates the key, but Apple can hold on to it. Sounds like an above scenario, but lets assume Apple is trustworthy.
Will this request be made again? Yes. I guarantee it. And because the FBI got the court order once, they’ll most likely get it again.
Okay… But the FBI will only get access to phones in extreme cases, I’m okay with that.
But that’s short term thinking. What happens when there’s a time sensitive scenario? The FBI doesn’t have time to wait for Apple. They need the key right now.
It’s vital that we prevent the time sensitive scenario, so the court says the FBI can have direct access to the key (We’ve already played out not trusting the FBI, so we’ll trust them for this scenario). But giving the key to the FBI is a slippery slope. If the FBI has access, it’ll be easier for other agencies to gain access. Then smaller organizations. Then local PD. By the time the key gets passed around this widely, there is no way it doesn’t get leaked. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of technology in the hands of millions. There’s no way it stays secure. It’s a slippery slope.
Or we can fall down a different slope…
And to scare you a little, the FBI could do it if they were good enough…
John McAfee (founder of McAfee and one of the top cyber security dudes out there) said “So here is my offer to the FBI. I will, free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone, with my team. We will primarily use social engineering, and it will take us three weeks. If you accept my offer, then you will not need to ask Apple to place a back door in its product, which will be the beginning of the end of America.” (source)
So, lets face it, if the FBI had a strong enough team, they shouldn’t even have to go to Apple.