Apple is planning on responding to a court order to unlock one of its iPhones by building a device that it cannot unlock. Sources close to the matter say that the company is working on removing a troubleshooting feature that allows Apple to update iOS without the need for the owner’s password.
The situation stems from an ongoing battle with law enforcement agencies that seek to compel the company to design a way to break into an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the two San Bernadino shooters. The FBI wants Apple to design an operating system update that will allow it to brute for the password. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook has refused on the basis that it will set a dangerous precedent of companies unlocking secure devices and accounts for the government to spy on.
In the event that the court persists with its order to make Apple comply, the company is prepared to implement the change to its operating system. iPhones allow OS updates while the phone is locked as a troubleshooting feature to allow it to fix damaged phones. Sources say that the company is working on adding a user password requirement to this step; which would prevent it from unlocking the device.
Apple is saying that it has a duty to its customers to keep their data secure, and it will do everything it can do to fight the court order. Foreign governments are watching the outcome of the battle carefully, as it could also affect the privacy of their own citizens. The fear is now that tech companies could fall under the same laws that govern wiretapping of US telcos. In other words, they could be ordered to help the Americans to spy on individuals.
At the moment, technology companies like Google and Facebook have thrown their support behind Cook. Apple has also found an ally in the Obama administration, who has said that it will not pass any law requiring tech companies to share their customer data with the FBI.
Apple has until today to file a response to the court order; which it will likely be saying that it refuses to comply. From then on, the court will have to make one of the most important decisions of the 21st century.
[Source: The New York Times]