Apple Vs. The FBI Vs. A Suggestion

Apple (AAPL) was instructed by the FBI to build a version of IOS that would let the FBI install that version on a terrorist’s phone enabling it to use a brute force method of pushing through every possible combination of passwords into the phone until it unlocked the phone.  The goal is to find out if there is anything of value to the FBI’s investigation into a horrific terrorist act.

If Apple were to comply with the order, it is important to note that there is no certainty that anything at all would be accomplished.

If the terrorists in possession of the phone used a variety of letters, numbers and symbols in their password, it could take minutes (if very lucky) or years to uncover the pin and unlock the phone.

Even if they were able to unlock the phone, there is no assurance that any 3rd party applications that the terrorists used were not still further encrypted and not defeatable.  The FBI would be able to get into anything hosted by Apple’s apps and systems, but not necessarily the 3rd party apps or systems. So while Apple has taken on the responsibility of the first step, theirs is potentially not the last step.

All of this is moot right now because Apple has refused to comply with the order. Here is Apple’s response .

Here is my response to Apple’s refusal:

Amen. A standing ovation.  They did the exact right thing by not complying with the order.  They are exactly right that this is a very, very slippery slope. And while the FBI is attempting to be very clear that this is a one off request, there is no chance that it is.  This will not be the last horrific event whose possible resolution could be on a smart phone.  There will be many government agencies that many times in the future,  point to Apples compliance as a precedent. Once this happens,  we all roll down that slippery slope of lost privacy together.

To those that say that Apple should comply, I say this:

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Vivian Lewis 4 years ago Contributor's comment

for once I agree with Trump!

HJ Buell 4 years ago Member's comment

It's very easy to find yourself on a watch list that does legally allow them to monitor your every move. It's also next to impossible to remove yourself from the list (not that you'd even know you were on it). Just search the web for "March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance" and you can read the whole 166 page PDF.

Based on our history of US internment camps during WWII, MLK, and a host of other domestic abuses of power, I'd have to agree that Apple is doing the right thing by fighting this.

Alexa Graham 4 years ago Member's comment

You make a lot of sense HJ Buell, but I agree with Craig Newman that Apple, Google and other companies are probably already monitoring us more than the government. I just heard on the news today that Vizio is being sued for collecting info about its customers' viewing habits and selling them to 3rd parties. I find all this monitoring creepy. And as you said, we aren't even aware of it.

Carl Schwartz 4 years ago Member's comment

Ok, I admit I'm only commenting so I'm automatically entered into the contest to win an iPad Pro, but I really do agree with Mark Cuban. Apple was right to refuse the order.

Derek Snyder 4 years ago Member's comment

I'm confused about something. Whether Apple wants to refuse the order not, isn't it illegal for them to do so?

Sandy Newman 4 years ago Member's comment

What can the FBI do to Apple for refusing it's order? Could this cause any ramifications for investors?

Michele Grant 4 years ago Member's comment

Anyone who has ever had their identity stolen understands why Apple can not allow this.

Dan Jackson 4 years ago Member's comment

Identity thieves don't need Apple to steal your info. But the FBI does need Apple to stop terrorists.

Gus B. 4 years ago Member's comment


Harry Goldstein 4 years ago Member's comment

Anyone who has ever been a victim of a terrorist attack, understands why Apple should stop protecting terrorists.

Dean Gilmore 4 years ago Member's comment

Why can't they ask $AAPL to do it for them without compromising all iPhones? 1 Apple Tech and 1 FBI agent in the secured room.

Corey Gaber 4 years ago Member's comment

As Apple explained, once they build they ability to do this, in the wrong hands, anyone can get into any body's iphone.

Kurt Benson 4 years ago Member's comment

I found Apple's response disingenuous. If they wanted to help, they could. They said their fear is that once they create a backdoor, others could find it. Chances are, there already is a backdoor. But even if not, they could create one, and then do an iOs update to patch the security flaw. They do it all the time, why would this be any different?

Angry Old Lady 4 years ago Member's comment

While your statement makes sense to me, are you a technical expert? I am not so do not know if this is true. Would be curious of others with more expertise in this area could weigh in.

Cynthia Decker 4 years ago Member's comment

There is no way this is a one time deal as the FBI claims. Why would it not ask for the same assistance after every single terrorist attack? That being said, they should do everything in their power to solve these heinous crimes and ensure they are not repeated.

Charles Howard 4 years ago Member's comment

Bravo Apple!

Alexis Renault 4 years ago Member's comment

Apple's response was an exceptionally well written response. At first I was outraged to hear Apple would not assist the FBI in pursuit of terrorists. But now I see have a clear understanding of the situation and support Apple fully.

Craig Newman 4 years ago Member's comment

Tim Cook called the FBI order "chilling." It's total BS. Companies like Apple $AAPL and Google $GOOGL collect so much information about us it is scary. The power they wield is... well that's what is chilling. The FBI is trying to stop terrorists and safeguards lives. Apple should have complied, not try to embarrass the FBI.

Bruce Powers 4 years ago Member's comment

Did you actually read Apple's response? They don't have the ability to do what the government is asking them to do.

Craig Newman 4 years ago Member's comment

They are asking them to unlock a terrorists phone. While I believe that this is a slippery slope, we're talking about Apple here - the company that invented the iphone. You are telling me they can't get in it? They probably already have that ability.

Ayelet Wolf 4 years ago Member's comment

While I agree with Apple that this is a slippery slope, and it is highly unlikely the FBI would not use this technology over and over again, I'm a firm believer that we all must give up little freedom to keep our loved ones safe. Non-terrorists should not fear this.