Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tim Cook's letter..

Tim Cook's letter about a recent demand made to Apple by the US government. (February 16, 2016)

A Message to Our Customers

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step
which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has
implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public
discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to
understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People
use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private
conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts,
our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we
are going. All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals
who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission.
Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our
power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply
committed to safeguarding their data. Compromising the security of our personal
information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why
encryption has become so important to all of us. For many years, we have used
encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the
only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our
own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our

The San Bernardino Case

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino
last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose
lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack,
and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this
horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists. When the FBI has requested
data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid
subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have
also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our
best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal. We have great
respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are
good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power
and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for
something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to
create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone. 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. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but
make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way
would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its
use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

The Threat to Data Security

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple,
clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the
significance of what the government is demanding in this case. In today’s
digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that
unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once
the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the
encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge. The government
suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not
true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any
number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master
key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and
banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable. The
government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of
security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of
American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same
engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users
would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users
less safe. We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to
expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and
national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing
so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on
companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still
encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

A Dangerous Precedent

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing
an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its
authority. The government would have us remove security features and add new
capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input
electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,”
trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern
computer. The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the
government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it
would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The
government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build
surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records
or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone
or camera without your knowledge. Opposing this order is not something we take
lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by
the U.S. government. We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest
respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be
in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
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.

Tim Cook

(source: https://lolnerd.net/apple-customer-letter.txt)

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