- The FBI requested Apple to build a backdoor to an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino terrorists, according to a letter the company's CEO wrote to their customers on Tuesday.
- Cook said the company opposes the FBI's court order not only because it would threaten the security of personal information contained in iPhones, including health data, but also because it would set a dangerous precent.
- On Wednesday, Republican frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, Donald Trump, called Apple "disgraceful" for refusing to comply with the FBI's demand during an MSNBC town hall in South Carolina, Fortune reports, while Google's CEO Sundar Pichia expressed his support for Apple's position on the matter in a series of tweets.
Some are calling it "the biggest tech case of the year" as the outcome could have an effect on the entire sector and influence other governments.
The FBI has a warrant to search the phone but Apple says the iPhone’s encryption features will not allow access or provide the information the FBI is looking for. The government is forcing the company to comply by citing the All Writs Act of 1789. A federal magistrate judge in California is asking Apple to create a terrorist-phone-specific version of its iOS software to help the FBI unlock the phone they seized from Syed Rizwan Farook after the San Bernardino shootings in December 2015.
“Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy,” tweeted Sundar Pichia CEO at Google, which owns the rival Android operating system.
“We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent,” Pichia wrote.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which represents Apple, Google, Microsoft, Blackberry, among others, expressed “worry about the broader implications” of the court order, The Hill reports.
Jeff Pollard, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., told Healthcare IT News that if the FBI were to win their case then all of the content residing on any iPhone could be at risk.
“This should force consumers and creators of apps to think in broader terms about healthcare and other data used, stored and transmitted,” Pollard said.
“HIPAA mandates that protected health information created by covered entities be encrypted,” Research Vice President at IDC Health Insights Lynne A. Dunbrack told Healthcare IT News.
"Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation," Cook wrote in his letter to customers. "The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor," Cook added. "And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control."
Cook also argued that if the government were to use the All Writs Act of 1789 to unlock iPhones it could extend privacy breaches and demand that the company build surveillance software and access customers' health records or financial data.
"We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country," Cook wrote. "We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications."
Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, said iPhone users and civil liberties supporters will rally in front of Apple stores on Feb. 23, Healthcare IT News reported.
Apple will submit a legal brief to the California magistrate judge in the next few days, Fortune reports.