The ongoing legal wrangle between Apple and the FBI has captured imaginations across the world – not just because of the big names involved, but also because of the impact it could have on everybody’s security.
The FBI recently ordered Apple to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone in order for intelligence services to gather information and potentially prevent future attacks. Whilst this may sound like a reasonable enough request, Apple fears that the government wants to build a ‘back door’ to the iPhone, which would allow it access to every single iPhone device currently in use, regardless of whether it’s owned be a terrorist or a law-abiding citizen. Such a move, Apple claimed, would destroy its trustworthiness among consumers.
Now, the US Congress is debating the issue, to discuss whether the FBI request is a fair one (for which Apple is obstructing justice), or an unreasonable step into a world with little to no privacy.
In one of the most recent debates, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner slammed Apple for wilfully impeding the FBI without offering a solution. He claimed that Apple has said it won’t comply with FBI orders, but hasn’t offered an alternate solution. If, he said, the company won’t comply, it should instead be forthcoming in what it is prepared to do.
“You’ve told us what you don’t like. You haven’t told us one thing about what you do like,” he argued.
Could iPhone hold the key to murder?
One intriguing development in the ongoing case relates to the murder of Brittany Mills from Louisiana. The expectant mother was shot and killed outside her home last year – her baby died shortly afterwards. The killer is still at large, though police think their identity could be found in the diary Mills kept on her locked iPhone. However, with the device still secured and unable to be opened, the case has gone cold.
The legal battle is still ongoing, and shows no sign of abating just yet. The only resolution that now looks likely (with both sides apparently unwilling to back down) is that put forward by Congressman Darrell Issa. He claimed that Apple would be put in a difficult logistical position by unlocking iPhones – the business would be damaged. Instead, he claimed, the FBI should get smarter and bring in the right people to crack iPhones themselves. That way, Apple’s permission would simply not be required.