Apple Reiterates Inability to Unlock iOS Devices Running iOS 8 or Higher in New Court Filing

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Apple this week informed a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York that it "would be impossible" for the company to access data on a locked iPhone running iOS 8 or later, reports Reuters. Apple was responding to a request from the judge, James Orenstein, to help him decide whether to fulfill a U.S. Justice Department request that would have forced Apple to help authorities gain access to a seized iPhone.

Apple's response is not a surprise, as it is the same thing the company has said several times in the past. Since iOS 8, Apple has stopped storing encryption keys for devices, making it impossible for the company to unlock iPhones and iPads under police request. Without an encryption key, Apple cannot bypass a passcode to gain access to an iOS device.

In a brief filed with the court, Apple said 90 percent of its devices are running iOS 8 or higher and are thus inaccessible. Apple is able to access the 10 percent of devices that continue to use iOS 7 or below, but the company told the judge that being forced to comply with the Justice Department's request could tarnish its brand.
"Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand," Apple's lawyers wrote.
Apple's encryption changes, implemented in 2014 with iOS 8, have been unpopular with some law enforcement officials. FBI Director James Comey has expressed concern that encryption implemented by companies like Google and Apple lets people "place themselves above the law."

Just yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook told an interviewer encryption is a necessity and that software backdoors are unacceptable, reiterating Apple's long-standing opinion on the subject.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple Reiterates Inability to Unlock iOS Devices Running iOS 8 or Higher in New Court Filing
 

Mascots

macrumors 68000
Sep 5, 2009
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FBI Director James Comey has expressed concern that encryption implemented by companies like Google and Apple lets people "place themselves above the law."
I can not get over this quote.

Like mining and storing millions of communication records illegally collected from American citizens.

Like not requiring the use of a court system to subpoena information because it's inconvenient or will never been have accepted.

Like attempting to circumvent software designed for consumer protection by using malware to grant that access.

Like giving authority to government entities for full, free access to devices under a law that was never designed to be interpreted under today's technological conditions or by lying about the situation in which those conditions were not actually met.

Let's see..
 

spoa94

macrumors 6502a
Oct 12, 2011
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New Orleans, LA
I love Apple's stance on security and privacy but I wish we as users could opt in and out of some of these features. For instance I would be okay with Apple storing my health, fitness, and Siri data in the cloud and not only on my device. I don't like that when I restore my iPhone from iCloud I lose all this data. I want to be able to tell Apple what I want to keep secure and what I don't necessarily care about keeping secure.
 

gixxerfool

macrumors 65816
Jun 7, 2008
1,037
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Was a similar request put into Google? I only ask because apparently they implement similar measures as Apple and I'm curious as to why it would be Apple in this case. Serious question.
 

Thunderhawks

Suspended
Feb 17, 2009
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Good job Apple. They courts should be forced to go to the accused, and then the accused should be able to invoke the 5th.
Even more brilliant to see this coming and change their encryption methods from ios8 on.

For the government to basically claim everybody is guilty of something and we need to see what you are doing whenever we want to in order to catch a few bad "apples" is WRONG!

They should follow the laws or update old laws that have lost it's grip over time.
 
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MRrainer

macrumors 65816
Aug 8, 2008
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Zurich, Switzerland
The problem with these backdoors that people like that FBI-bloke (and the other sock puppets advocating them) don't seem to understand is: if Uncle Sam get's a backdoor, everybody else will want to have one, too.
The same backdoor that unlocks an iPhone of a suspect child-molester will also unlock a phone of a suspected dissident in China or Kazakhstan. Or Iran. And the Mexican government (and thus the cartels...) will also have it.
Of course, there's always the 5-dollar wrench (https://xkcd.com/538/) - but people quickly realize it doesn't scale and is really bad for morale.
 

spoa94

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Oct 12, 2011
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AbSoluTc

macrumors 601
Sep 21, 2008
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i thought i read somewhere, that if you use touch id, the law can make you unlocked your phone; whereas if you use 4 digit pin, they cannot.

**edit, here we go. http://gizmodo.com/cops-can-make-you-fingerprint-unlock-your-phone-and-th-1653984192
Correct. So make sure you have an alphanumeric passcode and you turn your device OFF/RESTART before you have to hand it over. Odds of most people needing to do that are slim but keep it in mind TouchID will not work if the phone is restarted or turned off/on.

Also, good for Apple! No government agency needs access to what I have on my phone. I don't care what excuse they come up with or try to pedal for the sake of "homeland security".
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
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I love Apple's stance on security and privacy but I wish we as users could opt in and out of some of these features. For instance I would be okay with Apple storing my health, fitness, and Siri data in the cloud and not only on my device. I don't like that when I restore my iPhone from iCloud I lose all this data. I want to be able to tell Apple what I want to keep secure and what I don't necessarily care about keeping secure.
I could be wrong, but I believe most if not all of this data is backed up and restorable if you do a local, encrypted iTunes backup. Granted it's not an automagic process like iCloud backups are, but still might be an option for you. Edit: Looks like yes, at least some of this stuff gets stored on encrypted backups: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205220

In any case, it's a two-way street: Not only would you want to be able to opt-in to have Apple store that data, but Apple must also be willing to do all of the legal compliance required to store that data for you. No doubt, Apple would need to comply with HIPAA, and they're probably not willing to handle the elevated liability they'd face if something happened to your personal health data (like, if your iCloud account got hacked).
 

Huracan

macrumors 6502
Jan 9, 2007
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I support Apple. Enough is enough with the technological intrusion from government into our lives. If we followed the government's logic we should allow the FBI to put cameras in our bedrooms, our cars and everywhere, as it should help capture some criminal. I prefer to have privacy even if it means a slightly higher risk of a criminal getting away.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
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St. Louis, MO
Was a similar request put into Google? I only ask because apparently they implement similar measures as Apple and I'm curious as to why it would be Apple in this case. Serious question.
I'm guessing this is related to a specific case where a locked iPhone is being held as evidence and the owner is unwilling to (or maybe is dead and unable to) unlock it. Just my guess, the article doesn't go into a ton of detail, but a judge wouldn't just wake up one morning and decide to have Apple do this for no specific reason.