RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Justice Department and at least one Republican presidential candidate are firing back at Apple for refusing to help unlock a phone used by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino attack.
In a new motion (PDF) filed Friday, federal prosecutors say the company has chosen to repudiate a judge’s order instead of following it.
Apple has so far resisted the order, which was issued earlier this week by a magistrate judge in Riverside, saying it would compromise the security of all iPhone owners’ information.
CEO Tim Cook released a statement Wednesday in response to U.S. Magistrate Sheri Pym’s request for Apple to provide software that would disable current security features that erase data from iPhones.
“We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country,” Cook wrote. “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.”
The department also says Apple designs its products to allow technology — “rather than the law” — to control access to critical data.
“Apple has attempted to design and market its products to allow technology, rather than the law, to control access to data which has been found by this court to be warranted for an important investigation. Despite its efforts, Apple nonetheless retains the technical ability to comply with the order, and so should be required to obey it,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office motion filed with Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym.
Prosecutors also make clear that Apple would be allowed to retain possession of the phone and technology.
Republican White House frontrunner Donald Trump also waded into the controversy on Twitter, pledging to stop using his iPhone if Apple fails to comply with the order and calling on Americans to boycott the company.
The tweet read: “I use both iPhone & Samsung. If Apple doesn’t give info to authorities on the terrorists I’ll only be using Samsung until they give info.”
“Hopefully others will follow suit. Our country needs & should demand security. It is time to get tough & be smart!” Trump added.
The legal fight represents a further escalation in a public relations battle that the two sides are waging.
Earlier this week, Ryan Reyes, whose boyfriend Daniel Kaufman was killed in the Dec. 2, 2015, terror attack, said he strongly disagrees with the company’s stance and is considering getting rid of his Apple products.
The family of massacre victim Yvette Velasco also issued a statement criticizing “Apple’s reluctance to cooperate with authorities”, saying “Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why Apple would not jump at the opportunity to help uncover whatever information the phone may contain.”
CBS2’s Greg Mills spoke to a Century City-based cyber security expert on Friday who is critical of the tech company.
“Fourteen people died for no reason,” says Philip Lieberman. “And they’re saying there is an expectation of privacy for the terrorists.”
Mills said to keep in mind that Lieberman has worked with the government for twenty years and that he worked with Apple in their early formation on some book projects.
He is clearly not a fan of Apple’s.
In Friday’s court order, the government was clear they were not asking for the equivalent of a master key to open up millions of Apple products.
“They want Apple’s cooperation,” said Lieberman, “to be able to get into one phone to extract the information from that single phone for a specific purpose tied to terrorism.”
The company says if they create the encryption code for one phone, it would work on all devices.
CBS2’s Tom Wait spoke to Tech Reporter Jessica Naziri Friday evening and she explains why Apple is remaining steadfast.
“Once the system is out there hackers can go in and take all our information,” Naziri said.
Two passwords remain at the center of the controversy.
First the code to the actual phone. The FBI wants Apple to create a key to unlock it – and break through the encryption. Also in the spotlight – the password to Syed Farook’s iCloud account. The iCloud is like the backup of whatever is on the phone. San Bernardino County in cooperation with the FBI changed that password four days after the shooting. Apple says because they did that, agents may be missing out on critical data. After the password was switched, the phone cannot do the back up.
Even so, experts told Wait a backup might not show all the data that was on the phone.
Naziri believes once the door is literally opened, there goes privacy.
“It can’t be undone once this box is opened – once we hand over the information, other companies are going to have to comply as well,” she believed.
The FBI says the lack of privacy claims – like Apple’s — are bogus. They insist that everything will be decided case by case. The FBI says they’re even willing to hand over the phone and let Apple unlock it for them.
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