court order Stories March 21

AAPL: 105.91

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A detailed behind-the-scenes look by Bloomberg at the showdown between Apple and the FBI details how it had been on the cards for years before the San Bernardino shootings. Among the details revealed are that Apple provided the FBI with early access to iOS 8 so that the agency could understand the impacts ahead of its introduction.

The government’s concern about Apple’s increasing use of strong encryption dates back to 2010, said one source.

Long before iOS 8 was launched, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies had fretted about Apple’s encryption, according to a person familiar with the matter. In 2010, the company introduced the video-calling app FaceTime. It encrypted conversations between users. The following year, the iMessage texting application arrived; it, too, featured encryption. While neither of these developments caused a public stir, the U.S. government was now aware how much of a premium Apple put on privacy.

It was around this time, says the piece, that the FBI started pushing the White House to introduce new legislation which would guarantee law enforcement access to data on smartphones and other devices. These attempts were reportedly abandoned when the Snowden revelations changed the public mood …

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court order Stories March 2

AAPL: 100.75

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Shortly after yesterday’s Congressional hearing, Apple filed a formal objection to the court order instructing it to assist the FBI in breaking into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Apple had previously filed its mandatory response, in which it called for the court to vacate the order. This was a 65-page detailed document setting out the reasons the company believed the order should not have been granted. The document filed yesterday was rather shorter …

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court order Stories February 29

AAPL: 96.69

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In an interesting summary of the possible outcomes of the Apple vs FBI standoff, Quartz notes that some experts believe that CEO Tim Cook could be held personally liable for defying a court order and face jail time.

Attorney Peter Fu told Fast Company that the scenario would arise only if the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and Apple lost but continued to refuse to cooperate.

Under these circumstances, there is a universe of possibilities where Tim Cook could actually go to jail for refusing to comply with a lawful order of the court. This is because Apple has already publicly declared that it will not comply with a court order to unlock the iPhone and as such, necessarily forces the courts to favor punishment over coercion … 

Stephen Vladeck, an expert on national security law at American University, disagrees.

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court order Stories February 18

AAPL: 96.26

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Civil rights organizations have expressed strong support for Apple’s resistance to a court order instructing it to create special firmware that would allow the FBI to break into an iPhone – with tech companies doing the same, albeit in a weaker fashion.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted a statement in which it said that it applauded Apple for standing up for the rights of its customers, and would be making its views known to the court.

Essentially, the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security […]

EFF applauds Apple for standing up for real security and the rights of its customers. We have been fighting to protect encryption, and stop backdoors, for over 20 years. That’s why EFF plans to file an amicus brief in support of Apple’s position.

The Verge notes similar support from both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International …

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court order Stories February 17

AAPL: 98.12

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I laid out the three reasons I believe Apple is right to stand firm on encryption back in November. The tl;dr version was in the summary.

So weakening encryption would mean sacrificing core principles of civilized societies in the name of security. It would provide not just our own government but foreign governments and criminals with access to our data. And it would do absolutely nothing to prevent terrorists from communicating in secret.

Gratifyingly, 93% of you agreed with me. But much as you and I both think Apple is right, the company now appears to be in an extremely tricky position. Not only does it have a court order instructing it to assist the FBI in breaking into one specific phone, but it appears very likely that it has the technical ability to comply with this order.

Tim Cook currently remains defiant, but how likely is it that Apple could succeed in fighting the order … ?

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A security firm says that while Apple may fight hard to resist a California court order to help the FBI to break into an iPhone, it would be technically able to do so.

Apple had so far seemed to be in possession of the ultimate trump card in this situation: since iOS 8, it has been able to simply shrug and say that iPhones are encrypted and Apple doesn’t have the key. Even if a court ordered it to break into an iPhone, it would be unable to do so.

But while this is correct, security company Trail of Bits has described in a blog post how Apple could still make it possible for the FBI to hack into the phone …

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