New York – The Department of Justice (DOJ) isn’t happy with technology giant Apple Inc. (NYSE:AAPL) after the company refused to access the data on an iOS device currently taking part in an investigation. However the DOJ has dismissed Apple’s argument due to a lack of evidence by its part.
While intending to execute a search warrant on a suspect indicted for possession of methamphetamine, the U.S. government has asked Apple to unlock an iPhone device and allowing access to the information contained in it. But the company has stated that it would be nearly impossible for it to access the data on a passcode-locked iOS device running iOS 8 or later and even if possible it would not feel comfortable doing so as to not tarnish the trust it shares with its customers.
Despite having the “technical ability” to help law enforcement unlock older phones, Apple argues that decrypting a phone in one case would set a precedent that would only burden the company in the future, taxing its resources, employees, software, and equipment.
“This burden increases as the number of government requests increases.” Apple said in a press release.
Lack of evidence
Apple argues that aiding government requests for user data would hurt its reputation to the public due to the level to which sensitivity to digital privacy has risen in the last few years. The company says that this harm to its reputation could have a lasting economic impact.
The DOJ did not doubt before rejecting this argument, again saying Apple provided no concrete evidence to support its claims that reputational concerns constituted an “undue burden” as defined by law.
The arguments from the goverment are about the relationship that Apple has to the phone and the case. They say that Apple designed, manufactured and sold the phone they need to unlock to keep their investigation going, and also they wrote and own the software the company argue to be incapable of accesing. This to show that Apple should do what they ask, given that all this facts prove that apple should have a mechanism to help. This arguments were presented before the U.S Magistrate Judge James Orenstein as reported by Reuters.
15 thoughts on “Apple refuses to unlock iPhone involved in DOJ investigation”
It’s to be hoped that the judge is more intelligent then the author.
“…and also they wrote and own the software the company argue to be incapable of accesing….”
Apple are not saying that they cannot access their software. They are saying that it would be almost impossible for them to access the owner’s data if the DoJ has been unable to obtain the owner’s password.
“The DOJ did not doubt before rejecting this argument, again saying Apple provided no concrete evidence to support its claims that reputational concerns constituted an “undue burden” as defined by law.”
The DoJ should know that the burden of evidence is on them to show that it isn’t. If this resulted in a 1% loss of sales to Apple, that could cost them $400 million a year. Is the DoJ offering to underwrite that cost? The governments pockets are bigger than Apple’s. Have they shown that it would be an undue burden for them to foot the cost of their own dirty work?
“Despite having the “technical ability” to help law enforcement unlock older phones….”
Which part of “…the company has stated that it would be nearly impossible…” didn’t you understand.
Winning the national lottery is nearly impossible. That doesn’t mean that I have the technical ability to do it.
For Apple to break the encryption would take a far more unlikely stroke of luck, or take a very long time and a very large amount of computer time. Would the DoJ be happy with the data after the statute of limitations has expired? It’s that sort of nearly impossible.
In this case, the device is running iOS7, and Apple themselves have confirmed that they can technically do it. However, they’re also coming off various instances of lack of user security (NSA access – pre encryption, and iCloudGate, which is said to be not their fault, but still equates to bad press) and if they can prolong this “secure iPhone” story, they’re only gaining props and credibility (as far as security goes).
I think it’s important to understand that Apple isn’t “fighting the man” here, as their previous reputation, or at least history, is that of cooperation and their official policies have repeatedly expressed their willingness for such.
Going forward they’re still not fighting the man, but essentially giving up their ability do anything about a locked and encrypted phone. That’s not so much standing up for the users (which could obviously be bad folks you don’t want to be supporting), as it is waiving liability and further responsibility of similar action in such cases.. that is until something happens that then creates the bandwagon necessity to have some sort of control of your product in such situations.
Very poorly written article. Someone needs to go back to school and get some basic English classes under their belt. Sentence structure is poor, punctuation missing – readers should have to edit the article to figure out what you meant but weren’t able to write.
good. screw the government
Trying to say that breaking a product that Apple has worked very hard to make secure would not hurt their business economically and reputation wise is absolute insanity. It most certainly would cause an ‘undue burden’ not only in spending the manpower and processor power to crack the encryption, but in shattering the very framework of what the product IS. If the government has the search warrant, let them set 10 computers on brute force for the next 10 years to crack it.
Way to go Apple! If the DOJ wants it unlocked then let them unlock it or have the NSA unlock it. The problem is that Apple very likely can not change the encrypted data back to plain text and that is how it should be for all devices. The government has no right to personal data in the first place and can not make you provide incriminating evidence against yourself. Wake up call here people encrypt everything and have no worries about a lost device or government spying. Again thanks Apple for standing up for your customers privacy.
Yeah, thats the gist of the DOJ’s problem. They want to circumvent the 5th amendment and are pissed that Apple won’t (or IF what they say about no back doors is true, CAN’T) bypass the actual WORKING security. Up until this point, everything had back doors build in (yes, everything… you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to hack some things even without a ‘master key’) and Mr. Snowden exposed all of that. Now more people are actually aware of data security and it’s driving them absolutely nuts. The technicalities behind it are fairly arcane, but it comes down to the old ‘evidence in the safe’ scenario. Say you stash a kilo of heroin in a safe, and only you have the combination. Because of the 5th, you have the right not to divulge the safe’s combination. They can still have a search warrant, and they can FORCE the safe open… but they can not compel you to incriminate yourself by revealing the combination. They simply don’t want to spend the resources to crack the encryption and figure Apple knows a workaround. (Which I’m sure they do. They are waiting for the appropriate time [read:price] when millions have switched to their ‘secure’ devices, OR plan to sell ‘data recovery services’ priced in the 1000’s/hr). It will be interesting to see how this all works out. It is possible to create really secure encryption, but billions have already been spent preventing it from reaching public use.
“Which I’m sure they do…”
You can suspect, but I doubt that you’re right.
It’s far too likely that it would be exposed, and any benefit to them is tiny compared to the potential damage.
Follow the money. The DoD is now willing to use these devices which strongly suggests that they are sure that there isn’t a backdoor.
The more we all encrypt, the more impossible it will become for the government to take that right away or for the NSA to crack it all.
They are making their own life worse by pursuing these cases.
What does the picture have to do with anything?
It’s a methamphetamine investigation DOJ is working on, and Apple is refusing assist.
It’s a (stock?) photo of methamphetamine, the substance the accused has been indicted for.