Editorial counterpoint: What's really at stake in Apple encryption case
The Feb. 21 editorial “U.S. security at stake as Apple defies order” was one of the most stunningly naive positions I’ve read yet when it comes to the controversy over Apple’s stand on weakening the encryption of a single iPhone — a weakening that would instantly open a Pandora’s box of cyberthreat problems that the Star Tribune Editorial Board has seemingly dismissed out of hand.
First, it should be noted that the FBI permitted officials in San Bernardino County, Calif., to reset the password on the iCloud account of Syed Rizwan Farook — a county employee suspected of killing 14 people and wounding 22 others in December — and only then requested Apple’s help. (Apple has stated publicly that if this chain of events had not transpired, it would have been possible to obtain the shooter’s iCloud backup data.) The FBI then negotiated with Apple to recover what it could. Discovering that doing so was not possible, and subsequently failing in convincing Apple to create software to weaken iOS (the operating system that controls the iPhone and iPad) so that investigators could break into the device without having it “wiped” by a limit of 10 failed password attempts, the FBI then obtained a court order hoping to force Apple to create a method to do so.