Security Pros Offer Opinions, Solutions for FBI vs. Apple

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-02-22 Print this article Print

Matt Peterson, president & CEO, eFileCabinet:

A1: Apple has built their iPhone business on the foundation of keeping their users' data footprint private. Their business model and the trust of their customers are in jeopardy if they open this Pandora's box. As the CEO of a cloud-based data management company, I am particularly sensitive to the privacy and anonymity of our customers and the data they want to keep private. That's what they pay us to do, and that's what they pay Apple to do as well.

A2: If law enforcement wants to come and search my house or a computer in my house, they have to get a search warrant that is signed by a judge. I think this should be no different in the case of wanting to extract data from a phone. There has to be case-by-case oversight.

A3:  While they wouldn't publicly state this for obvious reasons, I'm sure Apple already has the capability to retrieve data on a case-by-case basis. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Aziz Gilani, partner at Mercury Fund:

A1: I am pretty strongly opposed to the government's attempts to get Apple to crack their encryption on iPhones. I think that demanding a backdoor to encryption: a) was opposed by our founding fathers; b) will inevitably be exploited by criminals; c) provides a new tool for repression by authoritative governments; and d) will create another reason for international customers to abandon U.S. technology companies.

As John Ashcroft pointed out in 1998 during a previous debate on encryption, our founding fathers actually had access to some very strong encryption tools with Thomas Jefferson developing a virtually unbreakable cipher himself. Despite knowing the powers of encryption, they never demanded that law enforcement have access to keys or tools to crack codes. He nailed the argument thoroughly when arguing against backdoors when he said:

"The FBI has argued that a system of mandatory access would make it easier for law enforcement to do its job. Of course it would, but it would also make things easier on law enforcement if we simply repealed the fourth amendment."

A2: As we learned through Snowden, Manning, and the OPM [U.S. Office of Personnel Management] hacks, the government is terrible at securing data. The private sector is no better as we learn almost daily with various data breaches and hacks. Do we seriously think that a universal backdoor to the data on any data device will go undiscovered? If you do, I also have a bridge I want to sell you.

A3: Once Apple implements a backdoor to the iPhone, foreign governments will also demand access to encrypted information on their seized iPhones. Even if you completely trust the U.S. government, how do you feel about the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or Syrian governments having the power to access encrypted data from their citizens?

As we learned during the Snowden revelations, foreign companies don't trust our government and switched away from American technology companies when their cooperation with the NSA was exposed. Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Intel and Hewlett-Packard were all impacted and lost key accounts.


Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


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