The situation concerning the backdoor access to the Apple iPhone 5C used by the San Bernardino shooter Syed Ryzwan Farook – is heating up. Even Bill Gates weighed in on the subject, revealing to Financial Times that he would allow FBI one-time access to the attacker’s mobile phone. He stated that all tech companies (including Apple) should comply with government requests for assistance pertaining to investigations regarding terrorist activity.
In more areas than one, some agree with Gates. This would be a one time-only access. It would allow the FBI to further investigate this case, revealing more info about an attack that shocked the United States. While some hard advocates for privacy consider allowing a backdoor access to be implemented a strong attack on one individual’s liberties, Gates doesn’t feel this way. Overall, it is a highly heated subject where no clear-cut answer can be found.
“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Gates said. “It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said ‘don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times’.” – said Bill Gates
The U.S. Department of Justice, joined by the FBI Director James Comey and the White House, argue much the same: the requested software workaround would be limited to an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Ryzwan Farook. A federal magistrate judge last week ordered Apple comply with FBI requests to assist in the unlocking of Farook’s iPhone, which is currently protected by a passcode.
Apple is battling the decision in court due to their concerns about the integrity of iOS as a platform. Apple CEO Tim Cook concludes that the mere existence of a proo-of-concept exploit will inherently weaken iOS safeguards overall. It would mean that not only “the good guys” would have access. It would mean that anyone (eg. secret police throughout) would gain unlimited access to sensitive information from enemies of the state worldwide as well.
What will come out of this whole situation, is clearly unknown as both parties (Apple and US Department of Justice higher ups) have their own conflicting agendas, revealing much deeper worries about data protection and safety. In a nutshell, Apple wants their customers to feel completely at ease – as far as the security of their information is in question right now.