Another dispute has emerged between the tech giant company, Apple and the US Department of Justice over the issues of the company’s policy on the protection of the encryption of the iPhone users. The recent conflict occurred as the FBI agents demanded Apple to help in unlocking two iPhones used by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani who is charged with shooting and killing three people on December 6, 2019.
Attacking Apple for Denying Federal’s Demand
On Monday, January 13, 2020, in a press conference, Attorney General (AG) William Barr attacked Apple alleging that the tech company denied the Dept. of Justice’s direction to help in cracking the iPhones of the suspected criminal, Saeed Alshamrani. Barr criticized Apple for not helping the federal agents and not providing ‘substantive assistance’ to the FBI’s investigation. Apple had already faced the same allegation from the US federal government four years ago related to the 2016 San Bernardino shooting.
During the shootout in December 2019 in Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida (US), Saeed Alshamrani had killed three sailors and wounded eight others. The iPhones used by the shooter, a Saudi Air force cadet, has been the FBI custody and is under the agents’ investigation. Since Apple has its policy of the encrypted protection of the device users, the company had denied the federal agents’ demands for unlocking the smartphone concerning its security policy.
Nevertheless, Apple defended that the company helped the law-enforcement investigations by providing the information of the shooter which was stored in the company’s iCloud system. Apple officials made a response that, however, the tech company would not be able to help in opening the devices as it violated the company’s privacy protection policy.
FBI alleging the Company’s Abetting Terrorism
The Federal Government reported that the recent event was different from the earlier incident of 2016. Citing the recent issue has the act of terrorism and security concerns of the country, FBI attacked Apple by alleging that the company’s refusal to help in opening devices was an act of abetting terrorism.
Following the Dept. of Justice report, President Trump twitted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, “We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers, and other violent criminal elements.”
Despite its precarious position involving the concern of terrorism, Apple refused to compromise its security measures and insisted that opening a device would make its security programs worthless.
Reminding the 2016 case, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter to the federal government, “If we break security on one phone, we would be breaking security on all of our phones… If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data.” For the 2016 case, several Silicon Valley tech giants including Google and Microsoft backed Apple’s position.
As per Reuters, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook also announced plans in last year to start its security-encryption programs for all its messaging services by declaring, “The future is private.” Citing the Government’s attempts to access Apple’s protected data through back door policy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claimed that “back doors [for law enforcement] are a terrible idea.”
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