Feds Want to Hack San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone; Apple Says 'No Way'
A federal judge is ordering Apple to help the FBI in its investigation of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The tech giant, however, is refusing to cooperate.
The FBI believes the iPhone of one of the shooters, Syed Farook, has important information about ISIS as well as the San Bernardino attack.
But after several unsuccessful attempts to guess his password, the feds are locked out. And continuing to try to guess that passcode isn't an option. After 10 failed attempts, the iPhone is programmed to completely wipe clean and lock down permanently.
The FBI needs a way around that, but Apple says the feds are out of luck. CEO Tim Cook is rejecting the order to create software that would allow them access to the locked phone.
Cook took to the Web to explain the implications of what the feds are asking to Apple users.
"Building a version of IOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor," he warned. "And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control."
Cook says customers expect Apple to protect their personal information and Apple is committed to doing just that.
In 2014, the tech giant updated its iPhone operating system to require that the phone be locked by a passcode known only to the user.
Before that, the company could use an extraction tool that would physically plug into the phone and allow it to respond to search warrant requests from the government.
FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress last week that encryption is a major problem for law enforcement who "find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it."
"Our job is to look at a haystack the size of this country for needles that are increasingly invisible to us because of end-to-end encryption," Comey said.
Meanwhile, both lawmakers and iPhone users are weighing in on this debate over privacy versus national security.
"It's been consistent with Apple's policy for some time to try and be as unhelpful to law enforcement as possible," Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said.
"They should be on our side in this effort against terrorism," he added.
But Sandra Cuevas, an iPhone user, felt differently.
"It's gonna give the government the right to go into everybody's phone whether they're criminals or not," she said. "The government is just gonna use that against you all the time."
Apple has five days to respond to the federal order to hack Farook's phone.