Radio Free HPC Looks at the Case of the Encrypted iPhone

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bubbleIn this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at Apple’s fight against a court order to decrypt an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

The government contends that a 1789 law called the All Writs Act compels Apple to honor a search warrant and assist the authorities in getting access to unlock and decrypt the iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook in the San Bernardino shooting in December. The government contends that phone might contain crucial evidence in the case.

Apple CEO Tim Cook on said the US government’s legal position on encryption backdoors was setting “a dangerous precedent.” If a back door is created to crack this particular phone, bad guys will be able to exploit it.

At this writing, the story is changing rapidly. Apparently Apple has quietly decrypted a number of iPhones in past court cases, but this time the judge asked them to comment in the public record. Could all this controversy just be about PR?

Today, in a statement posted on its website, Apple reaffirmed its opposition to the US government’s effort to compel it to provide technical assistance to the FBI investigation of the San Bernardino attacks, but also suggested a compromise in the highly charged legal battle. “We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms,” the statement said.

RelatedIndustry Reactions to FBI’s Request for iPhone Backdoor

“Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.”

The Radio Free HPC is split as to what should happen next, but it seems likely that some kind of compromise will result. Is the government entitled to a back door to all devices? It would seem that no one wants such an important policy to be decided from a single case in California.

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