A new report from The New York Times highlights a “renewed” fight by federal law enforcement officials for an easier way to gain access to encrypted mobile devices. Apple, however, still isn’t convinced that such a measure is a good idea…
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The report says officials are pushing for a “legal mandate” that would require tech companies to build the tools necessary to unlock smartphones and other devices.
Law enforcement officials have revived talks inside the executive branch over whether to ask Congress to enact legislation mandating the access mechanisms. The Trump White House circulated a memo last month among security and economic agencies outlining ways to think about solving the problem, officials said.
To help back up the need for such a mandate, the FBI and Justice Department have reportedly been meeting with security researchers working on mechanisms that provide “extraordinary access” to encrypted devices. Officials, however, are convinced that these types of tools could be created without “intolerably weakening” a device’s security against hacking.
Speaking to The New York Times on this topic, however, Apple’s vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, refuted the idea that such tools wouldn’t weaken the security of user devices. Federighi explained that it makes “no sense” to weaken a device’s security, as users rely on their devices to keep personal information safe:
“Proposals that involve giving the keys to customers’ device data to anyone but the customer inject new and dangerous weaknesses into product security,” he said in a statement.
“Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses or even manage vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems.”
In the past, Tim Cook has called tools that allow for backdoor-type access to devices the “software-equivalent of cancer.” Apple, of course, strongly fought back against the FBI in 2016 when the agency was trying to gain access to the iPhone 5c used by the San Bernardino shooter.
What do you think of Craig Federighi’s comments? Is Apple right to keep resisting the idea of tools that break device encryption, or is there a middle ground? Let us know down in the comments!