Apple Reportedly Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

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More than two years ago, Apple informed the FBI that it planned to roll out end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, according to Reuters. Apple ultimately dropped the plan at some point after the FBI objected, although the report notes that it is unclear if the federal agency was a factor in the decision.


A former Apple employee told Reuters that the company did not want to risk scrutiny from public officials for potentially protecting criminals, being sued for making previously accessible data out of reach of government agencies, or the move encouraging new legislation against encryption.

"They decided they weren't going to poke the bear anymore," the person said, after Apple's legal battle with the FBI in 2016 over unlocking an iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino, California attack. In that case, the FBI ultimately found an alternative method of unlocking the iPhone.

Apple faces a similar standoff with the FBI over refusing to unlock two passcode-protected iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the suspect of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month. Apple said it has provided the FBI with all data in its possession.

Apple has taken a hard line on refusing to create a backdoor into iOS that would allow the FBI to unlock password-protected iPhones to assist in their investigations, but it does provide data backed up to iCloud to authorities when lawfully requested, as outlined in its semiannual Transparency Reports.

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Article Link: Apple Reportedly Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected
 
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levander

macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
157
74
I can’t see Apple doing this, they have strong principles with privacy. I won’t believe it unless Apple sends a message to the public which will be a sad day for Apple if this is true
The article says they’ve already done it. I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

But the real people to blame I think is the FBI. Apple has done a decent job pushing back against them.

And it’s true that most people shouldn’t have to worry if their info gets handed over to law enforcement. Most people don’t have anything to hide, But I’m not worried about the FBI finding anything out about me. What I’m worried about is people taking My data and doing things with it they should not be doing. Identity theft anyone? And I’m not just concerned about the dark side of the law doing things with my data they shouldn’t be doing. I’m also worried about law enforcement agencies doing stuff with my data they shouldn’t be doing.

Apparently the FBI isn’t worried about that though. They could care less the safety of my data.
 
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Stridr69

macrumors member
May 8, 2012
63
75
Dear Apple Customer,
We, here at Apple, have decided to NOT encrypt iCloud backups. Due to the fact we can't trust you to use your iPhone in a lawful manner we have no choice but to allow ANY law enforcement agency to have access to YOUR backups whenever they say pretty please.
Have a nice day!
Tim
 

2013.1

macrumors regular
Aug 28, 2014
185
160
So my contacts synced via icloud
are encrypted but Apple can read them and give them to authorities
because they are not end-to-end encrypted?

My mail isn’t encrypted at all?

 
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Classie

macrumors 6502
Nov 3, 2018
271
386
Sweden
Do I understand it correctly:
- Everything on your phone is impossible for Apple or anyone else to see, without knowing the password.
- Everything stored on iCloud is open if Apple gives permission.

If true it goes against a big part of what I thought Apple was all about - Privacy! One of the biggest selling points compared to their competitors.

More and more of your stuff is stored in the cloud instead of on your phone...
 

BootsWalking

macrumors 65816
Feb 1, 2014
1,277
7,430
In public Tim Cook touts Apple's dedication to user privacy and security. In private Apple leaves a backdoor to users' backups that allows them to share thousands of backups with law enforcement.

In public Tim Cook rails against firms like Google that harvest users' privacy by monetizing their information. In private Apple has a secret agreement with Google that pays them $9B/year to enable that very business model by making Google the default search engine on iPhones.

Seeing the pattern here?
 

xizdun

macrumors regular
Nov 13, 2011
174
121
Well, that sucks for the rest of the world (other governments and people, including American people).
 

manu chao

macrumors 603
Jul 30, 2003
6,485
2,458
Do I understand it correctly:
- Everything on your phone is impossible for Apple or anyone else to see, without knowing the password.
- Everything stored on iCloud is open if Apple gives permission.

If true it goes against a big part of what I thought Apple was all about - Privacy! One of the biggest selling points compared to their competitors.

More and more of your stuff is stored in the cloud instead of on your phone...
The article very clearly talks about iCloud backups, not generally any kind of data stored on iCloud. So, I think if you only do local encrypted backups, nobody can access your data without some sort of hacking (see this article on how Greyshift does this and how to prevent it).
- - Post merged: - -

My mail isn’t encrypted at all?
Email isn’t end-to-end encrypted unless you use S/MIME or PGP (and even then only the content and not the metadata are encrypted). There are messaging services that are fully end-to-end encrypted (like iMessage) but look like Email in a browser window and can interact (without end-to-end encryption) with standard email.
 
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JosephAW

macrumors 68030
May 14, 2012
2,621
2,852
Well at least I can encrypt the backups to my computer until they remove the iTunes backup feature. The other option is not to use iCloud at all.
It will really get fun when the hackers gain accessed to this iCloud data backdoor they are giving to the fbi.
 

Ritsuka

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2006
994
453
Do I understand it correctly:
- Everything on your phone is impossible for Apple or anyone else to see, without knowing the password.
- Everything stored on iCloud is open if Apple gives permission.

If true it goes against a big part of what I thought Apple was all about - Privacy! One of the biggest selling points compared to their competitors.

More and more of your stuff is stored in the cloud instead of on your phone...
Of course, that's true. Like Google can access everything you put on their server, or Dropbox, or Microsoft. If it's not end-to-end the service provider will be able to access it.
iCloud Keychain is end-to-end encrypted, and Apple can't access it. iMessage is another one.
 

az431

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2008
1,406
4,085
Portland, OR
In public Tim Cook touts Apple's dedication to user privacy and security. In private Apple leaves a backdoor to users' backups that allows them to share thousands of backups with law enforcement.

In public Tim Cook rails against firms like Google that harvest users' privacy by monetizing their information. In private Apple has a secret agreement with Google that pays them $9B/year to enable that very business model by making Google the default search engine on iPhones.

Seeing the pattern here?
the pattern I see is that forum posters often render opinions based on logical fallacies applied to incorrect facts and unwarranted assumptions.
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
11,661
8,510
Austin, TX
I can’t see Apple doing this, they have strong principles with privacy. I won’t believe it unless Apple sends a message to the public which will be a sad day for Apple if this is true
It's a concession they have to make.

The fact is, they can fall back on that and to truly make your information unidentifiable, you have to do quite a bit of work to make sure iCloud is almost completely disabled.
 

palmerc

macrumors 6502
Feb 26, 2008
320
196
There is nothing surprising about this, if true - and as others have mentioned it would be a pragmatic move. There are numerous governmental threats to encryption worldwide that would force them to weaken or introduce backdoors into their system. At least you know that your data is safe up to the point where a warrant is presented and validated by Apple and you can choose not to use iCloud.
 

tcphoto1

macrumors 6502
Aug 21, 2008
342
1,718
Nashville, TN
It is all about business and marketing, Apple has advertising that says they’re all about customer privacy and out of the public eye they make your information available to companies like Google for a sizable “donation/investment“ in Apple.