Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook.Chris Foresman
Apple’s encryption battle
How the FBI could use acid and lasers to access data stored on seized iPhone
If FBI busts into seized iPhone, it could get non-iCloud data, like Telegram chats
Apple: We tried to help FBI terror probe, but someone changed iCloud password
Trump urges supporters to boycott Apple in wake of encryption brouhaha
Feds to court: Apple must be forced to help us unlock seized iPhone
Apple CEO Tim Cook has again reiterated the company’s firm commitment to privacy and its resolve to fight a new court order issued last week.
If the order stands up to legal challenges, Apple would be forced to create a new customized iOS firmware that would remove the passcode lockout on a seized iPhone as part of the ongoing San Bernardino terrorism investigation.
Early Monday morning, Cook released a letter sent to employees and published a Q&A on the issue.
In the letter, which Apple provided to Ars, the CEO wrote:
Some advocates of the government’s order want us to roll back data protections to iOS 7, which we released in September 2013. Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user’s passcode, so if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure. We all know that turning back the clock on that progress would be a terrible idea.
Our fellow citizens know it, too. Over the past week I’ve received messages from thousands of people in all 50 states, and the overwhelming majority are writing to voice their strong support. One email was from a 13-year-old app developer who thanked us for standing up for “all future generations.” And a 30-year Army veteran told me, “Like my freedom, I will always consider my privacy as a treasure.”
In the Q&A, Apple wrote:
Could Apple build this operating system just once, for this iPhone, and never use it again?
The digital world is very different from the physical world.
In the physical world you can destroy something and it’s gone.
But in the digital world, the technique, once created, could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.
Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case.
In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks. Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals.
As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyberattacks.
Again, 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.
The document closed with a call for Congress to “form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms.
Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.”
A federal court hearing has been scheduled for March 22 in Riverside, California to address Apple’s legal challenges, which Ars will attend.