This Isn’t about One iPhone. It’s About Millions of Them.
The FBI wants to force Apple to build new software and help it hack into an encrypted iPhone. No problem right? Wrong.
There are two major problems with the FBI’s approach.
First, creating this hacking tool doesn’t just weaken the security of ONE iPhone, it threatens MILLIONS of phones, including yours. The FBI is trying to using a 230-year old law, the All Writs Act, to force Apple to write a hacking tool that weakens the security of its own products. This is a terrible precedent. If the FBI can force Apple to do this, it could compel all sorts of other U.S. companies to change their products to serve the government rather than their customers.
Even worse, when that tool is obtained by criminals and foreign governments, it would threaten the security of millions of Americans’ phones –and undermine the safety of their bank accounts, medical information and most private personal details. Let me be clear — this is not about privacy versus security. It’s about permanently weakening digital security for EVERYONE.
Second, if the FBI can force Apple to build a key, you can be sure authoritarian regimes like China and Russia will turn around and force Apple to hand it over to them. They will use that key to oppress their own people and steal U.S. trade secrets.
I’m not the only one sounding the alarm — computer security experts and even major newspapers agree: Apple should not be forced to weaken the security of its products.
Read what experts are saying, then tell Congress #NoBackdoors!
Los Angeles Times: The FBI wants Apple to pry into your iPhone — “And if the government could force the creation of technology to decrypt a device, what other capabilities might a court require companies to provide in the name of law enforcement or national security? … Bear in mind that once those capabilities are created, it’s only a matter of time before hackers find a way to use them for their own malicious ends.”
Washington Post: Apple should not be forced by the government to decrypt users’ data — “The more government-ordered hacking techniques are developed and used, the more likely they eventually will fall into the hands of malicious actors … The anti-terrorism benefits, meanwhile, would wane over time, as high-level terrorist groups turned to software from places beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement.”
New York Times: Why Apple is right to challenge an order to help the F.B.I. — “But writing new code would have an effect beyond unlocking one phone. If Apple is required to help the F.B.I. in this case, courts could require it to use this software in future investigations or order it to create new software to fit new needs. It is also theoretically possible that hackers could steal the software from the company’s servers.”
Los Angeles Times: Why Apple’s fight with the FBI could have reverberations in China — “‘This completely undermines privacy overseas and if the administration thinks this precedent wouldn’t be used by China, Russia and others then they are in serious error,’ said Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley.”
The Guardian: Apple encryption case risks influencing Russia and China privacy experts say — “Authoritarian governments including Russia and China will demand greater access to mobile data should Apple lose a watershed encryption case brought by the FBI, leading technology analysts, privacy experts and legislators have warned.”
Berkman Center at Harvard University: Don’t Panic — “If the Internet of Things has as much impact as is predicted, the future will be even more laden with sensors that can be commandeered for law enforcement surveillance; and this is a world far apart from one in which opportunities for surveillance have gone dark.”
Schneier on Security: Worldwide Encryption Products Survey — “Of the 546 foreign encryption products we found, 56% are available for sale and 44% are free. 66% are proprietary, and 34% are open source.”
Gizmodo: Why you should care about Apple’s fight with the FBI — “We’ve reached a boiling point in the battle between tech companies and the government over encryption. And what happens will affect anyone who uses a smartphone, including you.”
Wired: Apple’s FBI battle is complicated. Here’s what’s really going on — “But this isn’t about unlocking a phone; rather, it’s about ordering Apple to create a new software tool to eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data. Opponents of the court’s decision say this is no different than the controversial backdoor the FBI has been trying to force Apple and other companies to build into their software.”
Ron Wyden is the senior United States Senator for Oregon.