Apple and the government have long been engaged in a bitter war of words over encryption and security practices employed in Apple’s iOS devices, but a new Wall Street Journal report indicates that the Department of Justice is really starting to take the rhetoric to the next level.
According to the Journal, a DOJ official actually told Apple executives during a meeting last month that in the future the Cupertino company could eventually be directly responsible for the death of a child.
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The logic behind this point? There will come a day when criminals—perhaps a kidnapper—will rely on Apple’s encrypted devices to hide themselves from the ever-watchful eye of the government. The inability of law enforcement to access the data on that person’s phone, the official argued, would inevitably allow them to evade detection and kill a child.
Apple execs reportedly decried the latest example in the government’s apparent war on privacy as “inflamatory” and said that the Department of Justice could acquire the information it needed to save the child from other sources, such as cellular carriers, in such a situation.
The company came under fire from the public after it was revealed last year that government agencies like the National Security Administration had reportedly gained backdoor access to iOS devices and were using it to spy on civilians.
Apple responded by introducing improved data encryption in its latest software update and creating a new website that detailed its commitment to customer privacy. The company has long held that its iMessage text messaging platform supports end-to-end encryption that made it impervious to prying eyes, much to the disappointment of government officials.