Apple to fight FBI order to unlock gunman’s phone, citing security implications

Apple refuses to build unprotected operating system to access gunman’s phone

iPhone displaying information

iPhone displaying information

Apple has said they will go to court to contest an order by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to access information stored in the iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook.

Farook and his wife killed 14 people in the Californian city in December 2015, before the pair were shot dead by police.

The FBI said that Farook’s phone contained “crucial” information, and asked Apple to bypass security software to allow them access.

But Apple has refused, saying that such a move would have a long term impact on customer security.

In a combative statement, Apple said: “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 statement goes on to say that Apple has complied with the FBI in giving them the data they do have.

“The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack,” Apple said, “and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. 

“We have no sympathy for terrorists.”

Software concerns

According to Apple the FBI request would mean the company would have to build a new version of iOS, the iPhone operating system, and install it on Farook’s phone, thereby recovering data the company currently can’t access.

Such software does not exist today, the company says, and warns that if it was made available, then it could easily fall into the wrong hands.

Apple said: “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.”

Apple chief executive Tim Cook described the demands as “chilling”.

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