Justice Department thinks Apple’s defying FBI to look cool

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iPhone 5c by uveX encryption
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing.
Photo: uveX/Pixabay

The U.S. Department of Justice think’s Apple’s hard public stance on encryption in the San Bernardino shooting case is nothing but a marketing scheme.

The agency said as much in a filing today that implored the court to “[compel] Apple to comply with its order.” It also cites the company’s past cooperation with law-enforcement investigations as evidence that its position has more to do with looking good to its customers than any actual inability to help authorities access the device.

“Based on Apple’s recent public statement and other statements by Apple,” the filing says, “Apple’s current refusal to comply with the Court’s order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”

The iPhone 5c at the center of this case belonged to one of the assailants in the San Bernardino mass shooting last year, which killed 14 people and injured 22 others. Authorities believe that it contains information important to the investigation, but they haven’t been able to get past the device’s passcode lock. Tuesday, the court requested that Apple provide a means for investigators to bypass the security feature, but CEO Tim Cook responded with an open letter stating that the company does not intend to comply.

It’s true that Apple has complied with previous requests to unlock phones involved in crimes, but it has designed recent versions of its mobile OS specifically to make that sort of access difficult, if not impossible.

The court has ordered that the company create a firmware version that will allow access to the secured phone, but Apple says that doing so would create a dangerous “backdoor” that could compromise the security of all of its products. The Justice Department’s filing counters this claim by saying that the order does not demand that Apple turn the currently non-existent software over to authorities for future use.

Whether Apple’s position is based on marketing or a firm belief in the importance of personal privacy, the public seems pretty squarely on the company’s side. An organization called Fight for the Future is organizing rallies at Apple Stores nationwide on Tuesday, February 23, a week after the original order, to show fans’ solidarity with Apple’s resistance. Others are showing support via a spate of online petitions that have emerged this week.

Not everyone is in Camp Apple, however. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has previously promised to “get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country,” has just called for a boycott until Apple unlocks the phone.

He may have done so from an iPhone, but those are just details.

Via: New York Times