Apple denies FBI software request

By: James Neyer ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | A protestor holds a sign beseeching Apple to decline the FBI’s requests for privacy reasons. Many worry that the FBI’s request would lead to less privacy for citizens.

A public debate has emerged surrounding the FBI’s request for Apple to create an iOS backdoor for iPhone devices. The FBI issued this request in order to obtain information contained within the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, a suspect in the San Bernadino shootings.

While the FBI has obtained information from iCloud storage due to a reset of Farook’s Apple ID password, some of the information is locked on the iPhone itself. This forces the FBI to correctly guess the authentication code for the iPhone, or else after 10 consecutive tries the device will erase all information contained within.

“The FBI wants Apple to write software, which does not exist yet, which they can install on the phone such that the phone will not erase itself after 10 bad tries,” Dr. Gary Lewandowski, professor in the Computer Science department, said. “What they also want is that there is no delay between attempts and that the tries do not have to be made by a human.”

On Feb. 16, Apple released a statement regarding the FBI’s request and its reasoning for not complying on its website.

“The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge,” Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said.

“While the FBI does have legal precedent, there is no guarantee that it won’t be abused or possibly even leaked,” Ryan Kupcik, a member of Xavier’s mock trial team, said.

In a similar, case, judges in New York sided with Apple, saying the FBI could not compel Apple to unlock an iPhone.

Many have come out in support of both sides, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeting that it “could be a troubling precedent,” and presidential candidate Donald Trump requesting a boycott of Apple until it helps the FBI. Others, such as Bill Gates, have taken a more neutral stance. Gates stated that there needs to be a broader discussion of the issues and that balance must be struck between the two sides.

Some have even offered their help in unlocking that particular iPhone. John McAfee, creator of the original McAfee Antivirus system, wrote in an Op-Ed that he and his team would work for free to unlock the device if given the choice.

“I would eat my shoe on the Neil Cavuto Show if we could not break the encryption on the San Bernardino phone,” McAfee said.