Enemy of the state: why Apple went to war with the FBI


“This unprecedented order directly violates the U.S. Constitution. Its execution would harm civil liberties, society and national security”, in a statement on 25 February, the press service of Apple commented on the decision of the court, which ordered Apple to unlock your smartphone the terrorist on request of the Federal Bureau of investigation. That forced the company to come to grips with the state and what threatens the technology industry is hacking just a single device?

Brute force

December 2, 2015 Syed Rizwan Farooq and his wife Tashfeen Malik broke into the center for people with disabilities in the California town of San Bernardino and fired indiscriminately. 14 people died, another 22 were injured — the worse terrorist attack in the USA has not happened since September 11, 2001. The criminals were killed during a shootout with police. After the death of the terrorists revealed that they had the foresight to destroy all hard disks and smartphones, in addition to working Farouk phone, which he left in the car of a relative.

After two and a half months, February 16, 2016, a Federal judge in California ordered Apple to provide the FBI access to data on “survivor” iPhone 5C with iOS 9. The secret service is particularly interested in bypass encryption — scheme of data protection, in which all files are erased from your smartphone ten-fold in the case of entering the wrong passcode when unlocking the screen. Removing the obstacle, the FBI can easily hack iPhone search of all possible variations of code hackers call this method “brute force” (brute force).

American authorities demand from Apple access to user data, but the company has never been forced into hacking devices. This time the authorities convincing arguments: the crime shocked the country, the trail leads to a terrorist group “Islamic state” (banned in Russia), and the smartphone belonged not even to the murderer and his employer.

Apple actively cooperated with the FBI in the investigation of — the company’s engineers helped the secret service to extort Farouk all the data from the cloud storage service iCloud. The stumbling block was the information physically “sewn” into the smartphone and transferred to the cloud. Not the fact that these figures are for the last six weeks before the attack — will help in the investigation, but the FBI has a real chance to crush the resistance of Apple.

To comply with the ruling, Apple will have to find a technical solution, which does not yet exist, and which — according to CEO Tim cook — will violate its obligation to protect user data, Apple took over with the release of iOS 8 in 2014.

Not just a smartphone

From the text of the lawsuit the FBI to Apple, it follows that intelligence requires a company to write unique code to bypass removal technology data solely on the smartphone Farouk and no plans to clone the experience for others. In the Apple the sincerity of the intentions of the Bureau of natural doubt, investigators are regularly asked Apple to crack the devices of criminals. The company will have two to four weeks detach a team of ten engineers to actually create the new operating system — Apple did not sarcastically call it GovtOS. The iPhone maker convinced: a precedent would entail a shaft of similar requirements from other departments and about the principle of privacy of user data have to forget.

Many experts agree with Apple’s reasoning. Only in 2015 the company has sold more than 200 million smartphones. Breaking even a small part of the users devices threatens to damage millions of dollars, the newspaper notes Mashable. It’s not just about the threat of unauthorized use of information by hackers. “Legitimate” access to the court, relying on precedent, gives the opportunity over and over again to oblige Apple to hack the iPhone — and not only in the U.S. but also abroad.

In the case of Farouk fact, to convey this message to the authorities company is not easy: the FBI operates within the framework of its powers, and the information from your smartphone the terrorist can not only help to clarify the details of the crime, but also to prevent new attacks. As explained in a column for the American edition Lawfare FBI Director James Comey, the authorities do not intend to break the encryption or to create a master key for iPhone. Apple parry: the system proposes to develop a special service will be just the equivalent of a master key, capable of pulling hundreds of millions of locks.

On 25 February the company announced that it will challenge the decision of the district court in Los Angeles. Previously, Apple has proposed to create a government Commission or expert group that has studied the effects of the dispute with the FBI for national security, privacy and personal freedoms in the United States. Moreover, the company plans to develop additional features protect smartphones from hacking that will hinder the access of law enforcement authorities to information, reported the newspaper the New York Times citing sources.

Pandora’s Box

“The U.S. government asked us for what we have and what we believe to be too dangerous to create. They asked us to make backdoor (channel remote control. —) for iPhone”, — said in a statement, Tim cook.

The confrontation between Apple and the FBI was the largest in recent years public dispute about where the border between privacy and national security. It is just not limited to only phone hacking: since September, authorities at least 12 times asked Apple to help retrieve the data from locked devices, has estimated the Intercept.

To satisfy some of these requests, the company may not, without the development of special software for hacking — such as the FBI demanded in the case of Farouk phone. And if the Agency wins, the state will be able to get Apple to help with breaking at least four devices, Wired reports. Law enforcement in the US has already stated that they have hundreds of iPhone that they want to hack with Apple if you win the FBI in this dispute, said in a statement.

Subsequently, the request of the FBI about the hacking of the devices may become commonplace, adds edition of Vox. If Apple loses, the U.S. government will force other technology companies to weaken protect their products and hackers will have the opportunity to find these “holes” in security and steal confidential information, writes Gizmodo.

Apple is afraid of not only weakening the protection of personal data of its customers. Precedent is able to unduly expand the powers of the authorities: “Should the state be able to force us to create other ways for surveillance, such as recording conversations and tracing the location?” — said in a statement Apple.

An example for China and Russia

Farouk case has renewed debate about whether the government be able to force technology companies to provide backdoors to their products, notes Vox. The head of the FBI Komi stands for the militiamen could get from the corporate data users on request. Technology companies insist that with the weakening of encryption, their products will become more vulnerable to hackers and foreign countries, they can use the same disadvantages of gadgets to obtain the information they need.

The possible consequences of Apple losing in the struggle with the authorities can be distributed outside the United States, warns Wired. For example, if the FBI will force Apple to cooperate, the situation may take advantage of the power of China, Russia or Iran — they will also require the company to open the access to user data, explained to the edition, the lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a nonprofit organization that works to protect civil rights in the sphere of new technologies). Thus, information from personal gadgets to the authorities of any state.

The biggest tech companies have supported Apple, including Alphabet (the parent company Google), Facebook and Microsoft. They’re going to sign a joint statement, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) . The position of tech giants is that hacking the iPhone would undermine the efforts of the entire industry for the protection of digital security customers.

Convince case Apple American authorities, it is not clear, but to reach out to opponents, the company appeals to the main Statute of the United States: “Authorities are asking the court to order Apple to create software, which will wipe out protection of user information, built for the Apple iPhone. It would violate the rights and freedoms secured by the First amendment to the Constitution.”

Who fought with the US authorities for confidentiality of information:

Conflict Apple and the FBI raised in the U.S. debate about the limits of the powers of law enforcement agencies in providing security. In recent years, technology companies and public bodies have been involved in scandals, resisting the attempts of the authorities to impose restrictions on them or to get data of their clients. recalled the most vivid examples.

2012: Internet companies against “anti-piracy” law

In January, the largest Internet company declared a strike against the law “On combating online piracy” (SOPA; Stop Online Piracy Act), which was then considered in Congress. Main bone of contention was a provision on the right to request disconnection of an Internet resource for the distribution of pirated content, even if the leaders are not involved in its creation. Affected were primarily user-generated content sites, such as Wikipedia.

January 18, Wikipedia in protest closed down the English version of its website for a day, and in sections in other languages have appeared a banner with an appeal not to allow the adoption of the law. Similarly arrived and other companies, in particular Google, Mozilla, Flickr, Vimeo — a total of more than 75 thousand large and small sites. Thus they tried to show how could look the Internet in the case of the adoption of SOPA. As a result, the majority of senators did not support the bill.

2013-2015: Edward Snowden vs. the NSA

In 2013, a former employee of the national security Agency USA Edward Snowden gave the media a document, which said about total control of American special services for Internet and cellular networks. Snowden has revealed information about the wiretap of negotiations of citizens of other countries, the surveillance of Internet users, the displacement of millions of mobile phone owners, credit card payments, intercepting SMS messages.

In June 2015, President Barack Obama signed the “Act of freedom” (the US Freedom Act), which reduced the powers of the security services in monitoring citizens. The law forbade the mass interception and tracking of electronic communications. Now the telecommunications company is obliged to conduct a database of communications, and for access to the security services need the permission of the court.

2015: WikiLeaks vs. USA

In June 2015, the organization WikiLeaks began to publish the secret documents proving that U.S. intelligence services wiretapped the phone conversations of presidents of France for the last ten years. In addition, according to WikiLeaks, the USA followed the French Ministers and the country’s Ambassador.

In July, the organization reported that U.S. authorities had tapped and Brazilian politicians and officials. WikiLeaks later published figures on wiretapping employees and managers of the German foreign Ministry from 1998 to 2009.

Diplomatic scandals caused by such publications, not once forced the representatives of the US administration to justify himself after accusations of spying for the allies in Europe. So, in June 2015 U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry rejected accusations of spying for the President of France.