Apple vs. FBI: Too much to ask

Ryan O’Leary, VP of Threat Research Center, WhiteHat Security
Ryan O’Leary, VP of Threat Research Center, WhiteHat Security

The FBI has effectively asked Apple to create a backdoor for its phones. It has not asked for the data itself, but for Apple to create this tool that allows any iPhone to be decrypted. As a security company we simply cannot agree with this request from the FBI. If Apple complies with this order it has put every one of their iPhone users' security at risk. The sole purpose of encryption is to protect your privacy and data. The FBI would have the ability to compromise personal security when it wishes.

In addition this sets an uncomfortable precedence. What happens if foreign nations demand this same tool to decrypt iPhones? What if this backdoor was released into the open? There is too much personal security at risk here and demanding a blanket solution is not the appropriate path. In addition this creates a slippery slope. If the FBI no longer needs Apple to decrypt these phones, then what is within the scope of when they can decrypt the phone? Today it is terrorism, but what will it be tomorrow? What are the parameters of use? These have not been thought out or approved which means the FBI can use it when they deem necessary.

If the FBI had asked for Apple to give them the data off this particular phone, this would be a different story entirely. This is a standard request like the FBI asking AT&T for phone records and text message conversations. We all know national security is something we need to be mindful of and the FBI could have asked for the data, but instead decided to force Apple to compromise the security of its entire iPhone user base. As a nation we need to set boundaries for what data can be asked for from these tech companies that do not violate personal security and privacy.

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