Based on my initial reading of the request and my knowledge of the iOS platform, I believe all of the FBI’s requests are technically feasible.Apple has been telling the public that it does not have the ability to comply with police requests, but that is not what it told the court. It has engineered the iphone to allow itself to break into it.
There is no real privacy issue in this case. The phone was a govt phone being used by an Islamic terrorist. The phone's contents should be available to the employer, a state govt agency.
Apple and Google take the position that they have a right to your data, but they also have a right to not comply with FBI investigations. They are putting their own business interests ahead of both privacy and law enforcement.
American law has always held that individuals do not have to testify against themselves in a criminal case, but any evidence in the hands of others can be subpoenaed for use in court (with rare exceptions, such as attorney-client privilege).
In this case, it is possible that the suspect used an option for a long alphanumeric password to protect the data. If so, then maybe Apple cannot the data, and some other issues might be in play. But as it stands, I cannot see any good legal reason for Apple to refuse.
Separately, Google has just announced that it is ceasing its service for offline photo editing, and requiring its users to upload all their photos to Google servers. It is motivated by the fact that its AI servers can now spy on those photos and pull valuable info for its advertisers. Maybe this is an efficient business arrangement, so I have no quarrel with that. But people should know that Google sometimes reports illegal activities to law enforcement, and has a legal obligation to comply with subpoenas.
A Si Valley newspaper story says:
The government is asking Apple to hack our own users," Cook said starkly.No, this is misleading pro-Apple editorializing. Apple would not be hacking its users. It would be using an Apple-designed feature to recover data for its customer, the state agency.
Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, which makes the popular Android mobile operating system, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that "forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy."
He also said that "requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data" could be "a troubling precedent."
Of course, the government has a legitimate interest in the contents of Farook's iPhone. It wants to fully solve a crime and prevent others.
Yet, if Apple is forced to come up with a way to unlock it, will a line be irrevocably crossed?
I think so.
I guess Cook wants to help gays keep their gay lovers secret, but this is not the way to do it.
Update: It has now been revealed that Apple has complied with dozens of similar FBI requests in the past. The difference this time is that the case is public, and Apple has business reasons for denying its ability and willingness to spy on its users.