In FBI vs. Apple, New York Times editorial board sides with the tech resistance


#1

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#2

I can’t figure out why the FBI is making access to a dead person’s phone such a big deal. It’s not like they can ask for a longer prison sentence for him if they find some more incriminating evidence.


#4

They are hoping to find out more about why this happened. It makes perfect sense. The problem is with their approach to solving the problem, not that they want to solve it.


#5

Hmm… The Old Gray Lady siding with Apple is more about a confluence of interests (example: journalist shields to protect a source). It /really/ does depend on whose ox is getting gored. However, use of the Writs Act of 1789 (though a deft legal maneuver) compelling a third party (in this case Apple) to assist with decryption of the phone overlooks the distinct possibility that Apple might be unable to devise a solution. Snapping fingers or pounding a gavel won’t make a unicorn appear or instantly create a software tool for overcoming an iteration check. A court can ask for pie. A court can ask for sky. But it cannot compel a person or organization to levitate pie into the sky.

Anyway… I’m baffled as to why the FBI can’t simply clone (image) the encrypted SSD, make multiple copies and then burn through sets of ten (1000 clones). A brute force crack is a brute force crack. Someone please educate me as to why the encrypted SSD can’t be cloned.


#6

Wow, the NYT editorial page didn’t roll over and snivel in the face of authority? Things must really be getting bad.


#7

From reading up on it, cloning the storage then brute-forcing the encryption is technically possible, it’s just that cracking 256bit encryption would cost a great deal of time+money to actually do.


#8

Hopefully the Feds are just hardening future devices in this trial by fire for full device encryption.


#9

They are not trying to brute force the 256 bit
aes that the phone is encrypted with, they are trying to guess the phone passcode (4 or 6 digits) and the phone is hard wired to erase everything if it detects this kind of attempt.


#10

I think they believe that it’s “softwired” to wipe, and that Apple can change that aspect for them.


#11

no man is an island. they want to know who influenced this event because they might influence others in the future - not that there’s necessarily any charges that can be laid but they can certainly keep an eye on those people if they know who to keep an eye on.


#12

one school of thought states that the FBI is more interested in legal precedent than in the month’s worth of data not included in the device backups they already have access to.

If they can legally conscript technology companies into writing malware for them (and the trojan firmware image they’re asking for is precisely that) then that would significantly reduce the burden they face when trying to perform technological investigations.

A terrorism case is the perfect vehicle for pushing legal precedent like that through the court system.


#13

This is very welcome news, because I’ve been feeling distressed about most commentators’ lack of support, or even understanding, for why Apple is taking this position (and kudos to Xeni for being on it, because most the blogosphere has been surprisingly tepid too).

Maybe it’s because the specifics are relatively complex-- a lot of the discussion has been mired in what Apple or the FBI technically can or can’t do with which iPhone model-- but that’s not really important. The point is, Apple has been making and selling systems on the basis that you alone control the privacy of your data, and the government unelected civil servants are trying to force them to change that.

Either your phone is private to you, or it is accessible by some group of people whose identity you don’t know or control. Maybe that group initially consists of Apple or the FBI; it doesn’t matter, because you don’t know who’s in the group, and you won’t know when it expands to include the Chinese government, or Russian hacker syndicates, or any stalker with a credit card. There is no magical in-between state where your data is private to you + “the good guys”; that’s not possible from a physical, engineering standpoint, no matter how often government officials flatly lie about the fact.

Maybe we as a society believe that no one’s phone should be private. Fair enough, but police don’t get to make that call.

Also, the police are trying to insert a novel principle into civic life through the back door: namely, that every new technology must automatically serve the police. There’s no precedent for that idea, and it runs strongly against established principles, but you often hear police officers speaking as though it were beyond question, because they intend to make it so, and they don’t want us to vote on it. If I invented a mind-backup machine today, by the end of the month you’d have some official holding one up at a press conference and acting shocked that I’d refuse to help them access the contents of some criminal’s mind, as though it had been established practice for centuries.


#14

To me it looks like they really aren’t interested in the data on the phone at all. They simply want Apple to provide them a new tool and are using this case (and the OMG TERRORISM! angle) to get it.


#15

In this case, they worry that they had ties to all terrorist groups and could use the intel to stop them/monitor them.


#16

Someone has told me what the FBI is asking for is something that could be done at an Apple store. Nothing I have read has confirmed this, but I don’t own an Apple phone.

Is this possible? Some how I doubt it, because if so all you would have to do is just get an attractive 20something FBI agent, find a 19 year old dorky
employee, make up some sob story that her idiot mom got locked out of
her phone, turn on the charm, and done.


#17

Maybe they realized they don’t matter any more.


#18

Most commentators should have an attention span/memory of more than 3 years.

I present this:

Apple and other US companies happily supplied the NSA with their customers data until the news got out via the Snowden leaks.

Only after those leaks MS, Apple, Google et al suddenly and “surprisingly” started to behave like stalwart defenders of privacy …


#19

No. Whoever told you that is either being disingenuous or is too ignorant to have an opinion on the subject. right now, it is not something Apple can do at all. The fbi is trying to compel them to devote millions of dollars of engineering time to develop software that can do this, which sounds like it is probably possible, though that hole could be fixed in future phone designs.


#20

This category of reaction is particularly bewildering. Apple shouldn’t be allowed to defend users’ privacy because in the past they have yielded to government demands (or more accurately, their logo is featured on an NSA slide about that)?

Apple wants users to have strong privacy because, almost uniquely, they have no financial stake in having access to user data or cooperating with governments, whereas they do make money from selling more phones, which serious privacy features can only help to do.

Even if you insist that they’re one-dimensional villains and nothing else, Apple are still the only significant player with an interest in pressing this issue. I would argue that it’s better to defend our civil liberties out of greed than not at all.


#21

It makes them hypocrites and untrustworthy. Today they’re willing to protect my data because it protects their bottom line. Tomorrow they’ll gladly throw me under the bus if it saves them a pretty penny.