Why the Apple vs. FBI Dispute Is A Good Thing

Posted by David Gamey on 01 Mar 2016.

The Internet and mainstream media has been ablaze with articles and opinion pieces about the dispute between the FBI and Apple over an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The issue has polarized public opinion and drawn attention to longstanding tensions over access by law enforcement. The issue is complex and the implications are far reaching. The resulting debate is a good thing because it makes us think.

The issues raised are far broader than just a technology or a law enforcement question. It will affect individuals, businesses, commerce, and security in our future. It requires that these issues be debated transparently, not just in courts, but by individuals, businesses, governments, and lawmakers.

Not only will it make us think about the immediate issues, it will make us think about how we use technology in many different ways. For example, because the iPhone in this case was supplied by an organization to an employee, it will make us think about BYOD policies, device management policies and technologies, risk and liability. It may also make us think about new problems that we haven’t yet discovered. These questions will in turn create new opportunities for new technologies and applications for supplied devices. New standards of best practice will arise. These standards will have implications with how we choose to allow these technologies to be used. The intense scrutiny on this case will help organizations focus on these risks and issues and what they must do next. And it will make us think of other ways we use technologies.

This is the kind of thinking that needs to be done in the open and not in the shadows. It is the kind of challenge that can bring out the best thinking in people. And regardless of the outcome of this case, this dispute is a good thing because it forces us to think.


Below we’ve included links to some of the articles, op-eds, and related news we reviewed around this issue.

Events in the case of the San Bernardino iPhone

Apple to present to Congress http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/29/11133266/apple-fbi-judiciary-committee-encryption-statement Apple defends itself in court http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35664904 DOJ affidavit made the issue public https://www.macnn.com/articles/16/02/19/apple.now.allowed.to.elaborate.on.reasons.behind.its.refusal.132644/ The County of San Bernardino failed to use mobile device management software http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/02/21/shooters-iphone-missing-common-feature-that-would-allow-fbi-access.html The FBI may have bungled parted of the investigation and blamed San Bernardino http://gizmodo.com/san-bernardino-county-calls-the-fbi-liars-over-terroris-1760317923, http://abcnews.go.com/US/san-bernardino-shooters-apple-id-passcode-changed-government/story?id=37066070, http://abcnews.go.com/US/fbi-san-bernardino-shooters-icloud-password-reset-consent/story?id=37093031 The terrorists destroyed their personal devices http://abcnews.go.com/US/san-bernardino-shooters-destroy-phones-hard-drives-sources/story?id=35570286

Opinions and Summaries

Article with overview of iPhone encryption http://arstechnica.com/apple/2016/02/encryption-isnt-at-stake-the-fbi-knows-apple-already-has-the-desired-key/ What the Apple cracker would entail http://arstechnica.com/apple/2016/02/heres-how-apple-would-build-crypto-cracking-software-for-the-fbi/ FBI using Apple to justify a larger budget http://fortune.com/2016/02/28/apple-fbi-budget-hoover/ Wired on the Privacy vs. Security debate http://www.wired.com/2016/02/apple-fbi-privacy-security/ Noah Feldman opinion http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-apple-fbi-terrorist-iphone-congress-20160223-story.html Mark Weinstein opinion http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weinstein/fbi-vs-apple-defining-ourb9260606.html Brian Krebs summary http://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/02/the-lowdown-on-the-apple-fbi-showdown/ Bruce Schneier summary https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/02/decryptingani.html Rich Mogull opinion http://www.macworld.com/article/3034355/ios/why-the-fbis-request-to-apple-will-affect-civil-rights-for-a-generation.html Michael Hayden (former head of NSA) is split on Apple vs. FBI http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2016/02/former-director-of-nsa-is-split-on-the-fbi-vs-apple-debate.html Google’s Pichai backing no-backdoor position http://www.businessinsider.com/sundar-pichai-responds-to-apple-case-2016-2 Facebook’s Zuckerberg backing no-backdoor position http://www.macworld.com/article/3036292/security/mark-zuckerberg-on-apple-vs-fbi-were-sympathetic-with-apple.html Bill Gates the issue is complicated http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=12000BSWEZK0 BBC summary http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35601035 This week in Google (long) podcast on the issue https://twit.tv/shows/this-week-in-google/episodes/340?autostart=false Carlson editorial cartoon on the back door https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CbqPx0bWIAEC5vO.jpg Op-Ed on Apple motives http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/skillicorn-apple-inc-isnt-a-defender-of-your-privacy ACLU opinion https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-comment-fbi-effort-force-apple-unlock-iphone EFF opinion https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/judge-doj-not-all-writs


New York court rejects FBI argument in another iPhone case http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/29/11135986/new-york-apple-fbi-iphone-encryption-ruling The FBI wants into many phones http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/apple-is-right-the-fbi-wants-to-break-into-lots-of-phones/470607/ FBI claims this is only about one phone http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/fbi-fighting-apple-over-more-just-one-phone Forensic expert claims tool would be forced into the open by courts http://tidbits.com/article/16277 FBI claims tool would remain secret http://mashable.com/2016/02/23/apple-vs-fbi-security-concerns/ FBI previously misleading public about unsolved cases blocked by cryptography https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/10/morecryptowar.html Bruce Schneier on the importance of strong encryption https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/02/theimportance\.html Link to a paper on the issue of law enforcement “Going Dark” https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/02/paperonthe_go.html President Obama criticizes China for security backdoors http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-obama-china-idUSKBN0LY2H520150302 Secure email services shutting down without explanation https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/lavabit-encrypted-email-service-shuts-down-cant-say-why and http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/08/silent-circle-preemptively-shuts-down-encrypted-email-service-to-prevent-nsa-spying/ Wider implications http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/technology/how-apple-s-row-with-fbi-over-encryption-will-affect-other-tech-companies-1.1679199 Blackberry almost exited Pakistan over privacy http://blogs.blackberry.com/2015/11/why-blackberry-is-exiting-pakistan/