Those that have followed the news over the last couple weeks are familiar with the the fight – currently on hiatus – between the FBI and Apple Computer. 1 For those that haven’t, here’s a brief summary of the events:
- The FBI discovers an iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino attack in December of 2015.
- The FBI asked for Apple’s help unlocking this iPhone by writing software that would allow them to bypass the encryption on it.
- Apple said no.
- The FBI said never mind, that they had been able to unlock it by using some sort of solution from a yet unnamed third party.
That’s where we are now.
It strains credulity to imagine that the FBI has been telling the truth during this entire process, and I am hardly the first person to point this out:
At least he’s being respectful.
The FBI has also stated that this case was only about this particular iPhone, and that it was not designed to set a precedent, which seems unlikely enough that I can’t imagine Snowden’s answer would be much different. It seems that this case was specifically chosen because more than just in about any other case, public sympathy would be on the side of the FBI.
Assuming the FBI was actually telling the truth about unlocking the iPhone, it follows that there are security vulnerabilities that the public – and very possibly Apple – don’t know about, and it’s therefore in their best interests to let Apple know how to fix it. After all, this was only about that one iPhone, if we’re all taking the FBI’s talking points at face value.
So far, there is no indication that they have provided Apple with any technical data indicating how they were able to bypass the security, which inevitably leads to at least one the following conclusions:
- The FBI is lying about having unlocked the iPhone.
- The FBI was lying about their interest in this case as a precedent, as they can get into iPhones now, or
- The FBI was lying when they said that they are interested in Americans having better cybersecurity, and are happier in a world where they (and other people) can access our devices.
There’s simply not a way in which everything the FBI is claiming can be true: they’re lying about something.
This should not be shocking. What’s shocking is that they seem to assume that there are a lot of Americans who would sleep better at night knowing that a dishonest government agency is going through their phone.
- Like quite a few fights lately, it has to do with the relationship between liberty and security: I believe that Ben Franklin has a quote about that. ↩