DOJ says Apple should be forced to unlock encrypted user data if asked by government
Earlier this week, Apple stated that it would be nearly impossible for it to access the data on a passcode-locked iOS device running iOS 8 or later. The company also noted, however, that even if it were possible, it would not feel comfortable doing so as to not tarnish the trust it shares with its customers. The Department of Justice has now dismissed that argument, saying that Apple should be required to unlock encrypted data because iOS is “licensed, not sold” to customers (via DailyDot).
“Apple designed, manufactured, and sold [the phone] that is the subject of the search warrant,” the government told U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein. “But that is only the beginning of Apple’s relationship to the phone and to this matter. Apple wrote and owns the software that runs the phone, and this software is thwarting the execution of the warrant.”
The specific case in which the U.S. government needs an iPhone unlocked relates to executing a search warrant on a suspect indicted for possession of methamphetamine. Apple argues that decrypting a phone in one case would set a precedent that would only burden the company in the future, taxing its resources, employees, software, and equipment. “This burden,” Apple said, “increases as the number of government requests increases.”
The DOJ, of course, rejected this argument, saying that Apple shows no attempt to quantify the burden of which it speaks, nor does it show any evidence.
Apple also argues that aiding government requests for user data would hurt its reputation to the public due to the level to which sensitivity to digital privacy has risen. The company says that this harm to its reputation to could have a lasting economic impact. Earlier this week, Tim Cook spoke out against software backdoors, again voicing Apple’s support for privacy for its customers
As you would expect, the DOJ also rejects this argument, again saying Apple provided no concrete evidence to support its claims.
The government rejected this argument, saying that Apple offered no concrete evidence that reputational concerns constituted an “undue burden” as defined by law.