• Je suis Tim Cook on this one. The U.S. government has abused its credibility so often I’m starting to question its legitimacy.

  • Sorry, CB, I don’t understand the “credibility” issue in this case. Do you question that the two persons in San Bernardino had contacts with foreign terrorist organizations? Posted on-line comments supporting foreign terrorist organizations? Obtained legal firearms which someone, not necessarily them, modified so that the weapons were illegal fully automatic firing rifles? That the knowledge and materials to modify the firearms was obtained somewhere, possibly on-line or stored in an electronic form? That there was a plot to use the firearms to attack a venue where many unarmed persons would be present? That the attack was carried out, and 14 persons were murdered? That improvised explosive devices were found at the home? That witnesses reported meetings at the home attended by military age males, who met in the garage where IEDs and bomb-making materials were found?

    So, what is the credibility issue? Do you not believe that crimes were committed? Or that there was a conspiracy? Or that there are not reasons to suspect the involvement of other persons or organizations? Or that evidence and leads may be stored in the memory of the cell phone?

  • @Wfjag; Hey about that? They know pretty much everything about this incident even without the phone.
    Of course you avoid the larger picture that the govt. is asking us to trust them with the power to compel 3rd parties to access any phone. Right. Like the TSA was just going to be looking for terrorists in airports. Now they’re a plague we’ll never be rid of.

    • Canvasback,

      That is not quite accurate. Apple isn’t being told to break the encryption on the phone. It is only being told under a law passed by Congress to disable two features on the phone – the autowipe of data after 10 failed attempts to login and the time delay (up to one hour) between entering different pass codes. (Apple must ensure that the ability to enter pass codes is still functional as well.)

      Apple is not being told to provide a “master key” to all iphones. In fact, they don’t even have to turn over the updated operating system that disables the autowipe / time delay. They can destroy it if they wish.

      (It should also be noted that the phone was not owned by Farook – it was owned by the San Bernardino Authority and they have consented to the phone being searched. I think that throws any privacy issue on this phone out the window.)

      Apple claims that this is about encryption, but technically it is not as they are not being asked to break any pass code or even decrypt any data on the phone. Furthermore, when the iPhone is made, there are two 256 bit encryption keys unique to the device that ensures that no non-Apple operating system can be installed onto the phone. Apple has the “master keys” to those encryption keys because it does send out updates to the iPhone which first check to make sure the keys all line up and are correct to that specific device. The government wants Apple to use their ability to install an OS and updates to disable the autowipe and time delays. In short, they want Apple to use a capability they already have.

      (The dual 256 bit encryption also means the government cannot use the workaround on other phones even if got hold of the files. They are still going to have to come back to Apple on a case by case basis.)

      Orin Kerr has more on the legal angles involved and the first two parts of his analysis can be found here:



      Unless I am misreading it, his opinion is that the law is being applied correctly to this point and that Apple is going to have to show that the creation of the modified OS is “overly burdensome” and or “offensive” to Apple. What those two terms mean are at issue. (The order echos the idea that Apple may show that the order is “overly burdensome and even allows for Apple to bill the government for the time to create the modified OS.)

      Many software people discussing this say that the structure of the OS is going to be crucial in Apple’s argument. If Apple has to create an entire new OS, that would seem to be “overly burdensome.” If,however, the autowipe and time delay functions are “compartmentalized” it might take Apple less than a day to accomplish the task.

      No matter what, this is going to be interesting to watch.

    • More than that: If Apple creates the technology to crack the phone, it won’t remain in the hands of Apple technicians and the government forever. Hacking technology always leaks.

  • The government issued a phone to an untrustworthy person, with the auto-wipe feature turned on. The government shot that person, preventing him from giving them the passcode. The government then reset the password to his cloud account so they could access it, preventing the phone from making an automatic backup that they could have later accessed.

    And now they want Apple to bail them out of this mess? They want Apple to take engineers off of whatever they’re working on to custom-build something for them to turn off the feature they turned on, to access the data that they made inaccessible? Why should Apple be forced to work for the government here?

    Given that the couple destroyed two phones, what makes the government think they used THIS phone for anything suspicious? Do we really think that they used the county-issued phone (which was subject to search by the country at any time for no reason, and from the terrorists’ point of view could have had all sorts of tracking software on it) to plot this, instead of the phones they destroyed?

    They already have call records, because the NSA has EVERYONE’S call records. So it’s not like they’re suddenly going to discover he made a call to someone. What do they expect to find?

    And despite Apple having 5 business days to respond as to whether it will be burdensome, of which about two have passed, the government has *already* filed a motion to compel. A bit overeager? They’ve had the phone for a couple of months already and everyone knows it. If someone was going to flee the country or destroy evidence they would have done it by now.

    I think the government just wants to use this case, with the “terrorism” label on it, to set a precedent. Apple will be forced to do this, because terrorism. And once that door is opened they’ll be forced to do it for a child porn case, and then a drug case, and eventually for a guy accused of spitting on public land.

  • So the solution is for the government to give the phone over to Apple, have Apple unlock it and download all contents and then provide all of the contents to the FBI with the unlocked phone. Apple signs a confidentiality agreement with the U Government. Problem Solved. Ian Ragiel Houston Texas.

  • The LA Times is saying that Apple will claim that the code on the phone is speech and protected under the First Amendment.


  • […] a case raising some of the same issues as the dispute over forcing Apple to unlock the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone, a federal […]