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Apple Seeks Public Dialog On Security

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Feb 22, 2016, 12:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple CEO Tim Cook today reached out to Apple employees and consumers alike to further discuss the company's stance on encryption and the government's recent request to help it unlock an iPhone. In an email sent to employees and a Q&A published on Apple's web site, Cook reiterated his beliefs that the issue is much larger than a single phone — no matter the details of this particular case. "Some advocates of the government's order want us to roll back data protections to iOS 7, which we released in September 2013. Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user's passcode, so if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure. We all know that turning back the clock on that progress would be a terrible idea." The government wants Apple to create a new version of iOS that can be used to allow a brute-force attack of the iPhone in question to unlock it. Cook contends the tool, if successful, wouldn't be limited to this specific phone, and in fact, Apple has already received hundreds of similar requests from local law enforcement agencies since the FBI's request became public. Creating this tool "would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks," says Cook. "We strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn't abused and doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to never create it." To that end, Apple is calling on Congress to create some sort of commission to "discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms. Apple would gladly participate in such an effort." Apple has been ordered to unlock the phone, but is disobeying the order. A hearing over the matter has been scheduled for March 22.

Ars Technica »

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