News / USA

    Apple: 'Dangerous Precedent' to Unlock Phone in Terrorism Probe

    FILE - Building the software needed to break into one iPhone would debilitate the security of hundreds of millions of other Apple devices, the company says.
    FILE - Building the software needed to break into one iPhone would debilitate the security of hundreds of millions of other Apple devices, the company says.
    Ken Bredemeier

    Technology giant Apple plans to tell a U.S. congressional panel Tuesday that a demand by law enforcement authorities to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California terrorists who killed 14 people "would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion" into the lives of people.

    In an advance copy of his testimony, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell says that building the software needed to break into the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook would debilitate the security of hundreds of millions of other Apple devices used by the company's customers throughout the world.

    "Building that software tool would not affect just one iPhone," Sewell says. "It would weaken the security for all of them.... We can all agree this is not about access to just one iPhone."

    The top U.S. law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is demanding that Apple create software that would allow investigators to check the phone to see if Farook, an American-born Muslim, was in contact with others about the early December attack he carried out with his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik. Both were killed hours later in a shootout with police.

    A court magistrate in California has ordered Apple to comply with the demand, but the outcome is uncertain pending Apple's appeal.

    In New York Monday, a different court magistrate ruled that the Justice Department cannot force Apple to comply. A Justice Department spokesman expressed disappointment in that ruling and said the department plans to appeal.

    If the California judge's order is upheld, other law enforcement officials say they will ask the company to unlock other Apple devices involved in criminal investigations.

    One survey in the U.S. showed that a majority of Americans favor the government's position in the dispute.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 01, 2016 12:29 PM
    Apple’s position isn’t helpful atall, to its image or overall wellbeing of the country. Apple’s corporate citizen of USA, and then it’s a corporate organization fostered by USA for its health/existence. If the US ceases to exist today, Apple maybe forced out of existence. The duty of every business or administration’s the security of lives/property. Apple failing to cooperate with security could result from not a desire to be of disservice to humankind but inability to go beyond what looks ordinary for it todo – break into the codes.

    While it’s proper for the company to ensure security/privacy of clients/customers data, it owes the state a duty to contribute to security of lives and property and ensure its gadgets aren’t used for criminal purposes to harm the state and/or the citizens. Where this’s established to have been done using Apple’s equipment in breach of state security, Apple’s duty bound to cooperate at whatever level to ensure that justice is done, retaining its right to sue the state if otherwise the latter has used its services arbitrarily.

    Refusing to cooperate is tantamount to placing personal interest above state’s, moreso placing criminal tendency above right of state to perform its duty of safety/security

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