Many people today use devices in their daily lives. Smart phones, music players, tablets and more. All of these devices have a way to password protect the device so only the owner can access it. Common methods of device protection include 4 or 12 digit pass-code which allow the devices to be accessed only with that pass code by the user. The way that Apple encrypts their devices so after many failed password attempts the device resets the encryption key hidden from a normal user’s view after each failed attempt.
Apple also encrypts their services such as iMessage and Facetime which they describe in their iOS 9 feature list:
Conversations over iMessage and FaceTime are encrypted, including predictive text — so no one but you and the person you’re talking to can see or read what’s being said. -Apple
No matter the brand of the device, encryption is used to protect the user’s data so it isn’t accessed by an unwanted user. This could be a friend that grabs your phone to a cyber hacker that wants to steal your information. Today users are storing tons of personal information on their devices. This could be dangerous and lead to identity theft if the information is accessed by the wrong person.
So how did the FBI get involved with the encryption of Apple’s devices?
The FBI was attempting to get into a device of a criminal, but since Apple has strict Encryption on their devices they needed Apple to create a custom operating system for device access. Apple has to essentially “break their product” to allow it to be easier for the FBI to crack the device password, which could potentially allow unwanted users to have access to an Apple device. If Apple needs to “break” their devices for easy access for the FBI then other tech companies such as, Samsung, LG, Sony, etc would have to remove their encryption on their devices aswell. Governments in other counties would also want access to devices for security reasons.
How did Apple Respond?
Apple has denied creating a tool for the FBI to get their products without knowing the pass-code. Apple was ordered by the FBI through a court order, but there is no law saying Apple has to modify their product.
Pulled from Apple’s Response Letter:
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
The Letter is signed by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.