Yesterday The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the ongoing battle between Apple Inc. and the federal government. Apple cell phones have systems built into them that prevent someone who steals your cell phone from having access to all of your personal (and professional) information. Obviously, if you are a terrorist, this works really well. I am not a computer/cell phone-savvy person and did not understand what was going on here. The explanation you are about to hear is the result of a techie explaining the situation to me.
The article in the Los Angeles Times reports:
In a statement, Cook said that such a move would undermine encryption by creating a backdoor that could potentially be used in the future on devices.
…The Manhattan district attorney‘s office said in a report issued in November that it was unable to execute 111 search warrants for smartphones over the last year because they were running on encrypted technology offered through Apple’s iOS 8 operating system.
So let’s look at some possible solutions that do not create a backdoor.
First of all, the government should need a warrant to search any cell phone. Considering this phone belonged to a terrorist shooter, that should not be a problem. Second of all, there is no reason why the government can’t turn the phone over to Apple and ask them to please provide the government with all information on the phone. Since Apple set up the programs that encrypted it, they should be able to unencrypt it. Again, I am not technically savvy, but that seems to me to be the obvious solution. In future cases where an Apple cell phone needs to be searched, a warrant shall be required, and the phone should be turned over to Apple. Therefore, no backdoor is created, and the feds can go merrily on their way with the information they need. I would be very reluctant to give the federal government a means to unencrypt any cell phone. I simply don’t trust the government with that kind of power.