Why Apple are right to refuse FBI iPhone access

As you have probably seen in the news, Apple are currently battling the FBI over the law enforcement agency’s request to access a phone used by one of the San Bernardino killers.

Posted on 26 February 2016 - Security
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The FBI wants the technology giant to help it break into the phone by turning off the functionality that deletes all data from a device after 10 failed password attempts. Apple has asked a US court to overturn an earlier ruling ordering them to do so.

They are perfectly entitled to request that - on both business and ethical grounds. Here’s why…

The sanctity of device data

This is absolutely fundamental to Apple’s central platform and their business offering. It seems it is on this point that their legal challenge will rest. The company has built its reputation partly on its ability to help its customers make their phone a secure hub for their entire world. Unbreakable encryption of the data stored on a device is a key component of that. Break the encryption and the trust is broken, too.

How can you ask people to use that same device as a virtual key to a bank account, a plane ticket (maybe even a passport one day soon), the key to a home or hotel room or a wallet when they know it is possible for someone to gain access to the data?

The 'bad' guys’ tech knowledge is as good as the ‘good’ guys

Open loopholes for the ‘good’ guys to bypass device security and encryption, and it won’t be too long before the bad guys have found a way in, too.

The personal, financial and biometric data stored on our phones makes them a goldmine for anyone intent on committing identity theft.

Existing confidence in the technology comes from knowing that even the ‘good’ guys can’t access our data, let alone the criminals. 

Encryption is a right

Privacy is a right for innocent people. So is the encryption technology that preserves it.

Just like we’re allowed to have curtains on a window, we should continue to be allowed encryption.

If Apple and, in turn, other tech firms can no longer guarantee this privacy to us, their business models and the progress that has come to all of us through exploiting the technology we carry could be in jeopardy.