The U.S. government has asked Apple to unlock 15 iPhones over the last four months

The U.S. government has asked Apple to unlock 15 iPhones over the last four months
One reason why Apple has refused to follow the court order demanding that it unlock Syed Farook's Apple iPhone 5c, is the fear that doing it once will give the government ammunition to continue asking it to unlock other iPhones. As it turns out, a new report says that the Justice Department has asked Apple to unlock 15 iPhone units over the last four months.

Apple wrote in a letter to a federal judge in Brooklyn which was unsealed yesterday, that it had been asked to help law enforcement access 13 other iPhones. In its response, the prosecution said it was aware of a 15th request, which was for a case open in Massachusetts. All of these requests took place in October or later. Some of the other iPhones that Apple has been requested to unlock are older models that are not as hard to access as Farook's handset.

Of the 15 requests, Apple has given thumbs down to 12 of them so far. That includes the iPhone 5c used by Farook. He and his wife burst into an office building in San Bernardino on December 2nd after leaving an event in that very same office, and killed 14 people. Law enforcement officials believe that Farook's iPhone could contain a treasure trove of information about others that might have guided the couple through the planning of the attack. More importantly, the phone could contain future targets.

In an open letter to Apple customers written last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that since iOS 8 was launched, the software required to unlock an iPhone does not exist and would have to be built by Apple. But the company is concerned that once this new version of iOS is built, it could end up in the wrong hands threatening the privacy of iPhone users around the world.
 
source: Reuters

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57 Comments

52. tyson3

Posts: 68; Member since: May 15, 2012

People need to wake up and realize what is truly taking place here or at least stop trying to make it out as if Apple is doing something so wrong here! We have a government that has allowed groups of people in this country that have been suspicious and had certain backgrounds that they knew enough about. It wouldn't matter what phone they used to communicate with this plan was going down and they wanted the world to see it. Whether Apple gives in or not the problem wasn't going to be prevented and still won't be after the fact and we know. New town happened and Boston no one calling for phones or whatever they need for those people.

45. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

It can be used as marketing if they plan something like this... they make software to unlock iPhone 5c... but right after that, they offer iPhone 5se turn-in program to "save their consumers private data".. that turn-in program is for i5, i5s, and i5c, plus extra $300-$400 to get i5se (or free with 2 year carrier-contract) with that logic, i5se existense totally make sense o.O

24. sebstin

Posts: 195; Member since: Dec 03, 2015

Why cant they get call records from carrier? and emails/photo etc from service providers?. What else left in phone?

26. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

Because then they don't have a reason to get in to this or anyone else's phone....

29. Pdubb

Posts: 250; Member since: Aug 08, 2011

Maybe they used imessages and bypassed the carriers?!?!

30. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

The carriers can only give them numbers and Names and I believe the email server can only give them at most email addresses not what is in that email. Also the carrier cannot tell you what is in a text. That is what they want to be able to get. What in in the emails and the text messages.

44. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

name is enough for them.. and some special forces will break into all those name's house :D

22. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

---"In an open letter to Apple customers written last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that since iOS 8 was launched, the software required to unlock an iPhone does not exist and would have to be built by Apple."--- Really? I find this hard to believe. IPhones are returned for defects and need to be unlocked and reset to factory default before being reissued as a refurbished unit that ends up in the hands of others. It is one thing to make a stand on privacy. It is another to claim there is no way to break a door. John B.

25. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

There is a difference between a factory wipe and unlocking a phone to access the personal data on it. The government does not want the data on the phone wiped, they want access to it. But you know that, right? Exia

31. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Yes and no. But, in order for Apple to control its platform, it needs to be able to access the very mathematics and codes that make up its DNA. To say there is no way to unlock its own product, is suspicious and greatly opens it up for less control. That is not what ios or any other platform is about. It all boils down to abstinence and who is going to have the greatest control. Government wants it and Apple wants it. No surprise really that these two are fighting over this. Latest polls across the board including CNN show that only a small amount of people support Apple in its stance. Most understand the seriousness of deflecting investigations from major crimes or terrorism. Each and everyone of us has the potential to be investigated without our resistance. In contrast, we also have the potential to be victims. I would want answers and justice to loss of family or personal possessions of said crimes. Knowing only a phone could be the only bridge to this information, really seems ludicrous in the scope of the landscape to lock out this information. This case is high profile and I view all the publicity Apple is getting by promoting their platform system through all of this. Just unlock the damn phone. John B.

32. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

The issue here is not so much about unlocking 1 phone as it is the government wanting the ability to access any phone at will through a software backdoor. If you actually look at what the government is asking for instead of this smoke screen of wanting a terror suspects phone unlocked. Exia

37. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I understand what you're saying. But, it isn't so cut and dry within a "conspiracy theory" of the government. Lives were lost, people want answers and Apple refuses to comply with a request to possibly reveal what could be crucial evidence in government property being used in an attack(s). The phone was owned by the county the shooters worked for. It's owned by the government. They have the right to request or demand an unlock. Since many owners may face a situation of needing or wanting an unlock, I don't feel it is an unfair request to have a "backdoor" option. Putting too much faith in a company is just as dangerous as saying our security is good enough the way it is. John B.

38. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

SO what your saying is that because of a couple of piles of trash that committed an atrocity EVERYONE must give up their right to privacy on THEIR property? That sounds logical.... Didn't the Health Department already unlock the phone once before the password got changed? I thought I read that somewhere.... Exia

39. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

No. That's not what I'm saying. I think you parry my point. Apple is not doing any consumers justice here. As I stated, very few percentage are standing behind Apple. Doesn't that say something about people not worried about what the government's directive is? I think everyone is magnifying the understanding of privacy. I like my privacy just as much as anyone else. The problem is when people use the right of privacy to argue against the government or any other entity. If people are so scared of their privacy being breached, perhaps we should just lock ourselves in bubbles to shield ourselves from the outside environment. I've been around 55 years and never had any reason to believe the government wanted to know everything about me. Yes, they like to tax the crap out of us, but, I never felt my privacy was a concern. If you have nothing to hide, what is the big deal? The government has the means to do far more intervention at will than just checking phones. And speaking of "Owning" your phone, why do people allow the company to control your device by saying what you can or what you can't do with it? Isn't this a form of governmental control? I think this is more about your descention with government than it is with the case at hand. John B.

41. ShadowHammer

Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

I don't want to get into a big discussion about this, but it irks me a little when people use the "If you have nothing to hide, what is the big deal?" mantra. It isn't about hiding nefarious activities. It's the idea of intrusion when you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A comparison I might make is to a peeping tom. Hardly anyone, to my knowledge, likes a peeping tom even if all you are doing is sitting down with your family for dinner. Sure, you can close your curtains, but the peeping tom is still there outside, creeping out your family. Also, this particular case is disturbing because it has a potential to allow government or anyone able to get a hold of the backdoor to become a peeping tom on a large proportion of phones in the world. And you won't be able to close the curtains or call the police then. I think I understand what you are saying, but in this scenario, I don't think people's concerns are purely due to fear of government or conspiracy theories. Could be wrong though...

48. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

You make a valiant point about peeping toms. However, we have a platform that has an 83% marketshare world wide that iPhone users seem to forget about; Android. Apple users claim Android is so easy to hack or create a "backdoor" for. Yet, in the whole mist of this news, we hear nothing of Android users screaming about how the government has "intruded" on or exploited their privacy. I'm sure Tim and Apple are all too happy to gain paranoid consumers through this. I'm in no means in total defense of the government. However, as much as government can be one huge Cluster F, It really has no reason to "snoop" unless it suspects something. Not once have I seen a government official in my window at dinner. If I did, I would probably offer him dinner and a beer. "I have nothing to hide." While I can admit that privacy is a concern, we must not forget that government has some of the most secretive people in the work force. If anyone or thing should be paranoid of a breach in privacy, I think the government would be the most vocal about keeping the skeletons hidden rather than taking a risk in watch groups peeping in on its own phone history. We need to remain balanced and understand that in the end, we are essentially fighting a war to enhance national security. Think of all the terrorists or criminals that will purchase iphones knowing Tim will protect them. It would be the perfect storm. John B.

54. ShadowHammer

Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

Your iOS vs Android argument doesn't hold water to me. In essence, you are saying, "hey, this only affects iPhones, and that's only ~13% of users, so they can just switch over to Androids and be safe." So, the solution to security backdoors is to change your ecosystem, OS, and phone company. This is akin to saying the solution to peeping toms is just to move to another house. This case concerns me more in terms of the precedent it may set, and the potential for it to fall in the wrong hands. E.g., I can see a scenario in which government asks Google to create a backdoor to its encryption that comes with Android 5+. Or a criminal uses it for identity theft. I tend to agree with you that the government having a backdoor isn't super concerning to me, but in my mind once that backdoor is created and out there, it is naive to think only Apple and US govt will have access to it. I also agree that there should be a balance between privacy and being able to catch the bad guys. I think we may just differ a bit on where to draw that line. I also don't think iPhones being encrypted and not having a backdoor will lead to increased terrorism and crime as you suggest. Agree to disagree I suppose.

55. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

The argument doesn't hold water with you because you misinterpreted my point. I'm not asking anyone to switch platforms. I am stating that with Android holding the world's marketshare by a huge margin, and government as well as other entities having the means to breach Android's security, we are not hearing a huge tidal wave of users claiming they've been violated by the government. And I'm sure criminals or terrorists are not using just iPhones. What about computers, laptops Etc? These have been around for many years with government being able to confiscate and view history. Again, no one has claimed to be intruded on. I fully believe Apple is using this fight as publicity. No doubt Tim is going to plug Apple huge in his interview with ABC. Being Around Apple for its full tenure of 37 years, it has always been Apple's maeketing and goal to use its security as the selling point for its products. Claiming it can't be "hacked." He will unequivocally, tell consumers that if they purchase an Apple product, they can rest assured of privacy as long as he is CEO. I really don't know why people can't understand that the government or anyone could violate anyone at anytime. They have always been able to. And phones wouldn't keep them from doing it. The basis is simple. The Government and even Apple itself should have access to it. The fact that anything can fall into the hands of the wrong person or group, is more than mere phones. As a commercial equipment repair technician, more and more appliances are equipping smartboxes that monitor a consumer's user habits and cuisine. Wouldn't this be considered a form of "Peeping Tom"? Why isn't this news? Why are we not paranoid of this? Cars with Black boxes that monitor our driving methods? I really think paranoia seems to be selective when a certain passion is violated. In this case, it is an iPhone. Not just any phone. John B.

56. ShadowHammer

Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

Ah, so your thought is that since the larger ecosystem hasn't had a publicized government backdoor request, then Apple's outcry is just for publicity/sales? An interesting theory, but one that I don't feel we have enough facts to substantiate yet. Before Edward Snowden, there wasn't an outcry about the govt monitoring and tracking phone info, but that doesn't mean it wasn't occurring, or that we shouldn't have been concerned about it. I agree with you that government has the ability (legal or no) to spy on people without their consent, I just don't feel like we should give them the key to our house. To me, it's not a question of whether or not government is capable of such actions, it's whether they should require a private entity to open up their entire system to them in order to access one individual's data. Also, I'm concerned about all of your monitoring examples. I'm just as concerned about those as I am phones. I can't tell you why that's not news, but my guess is that it isn't ubiquitous enough to catch the public eye. I don't think concern over these issues is paranoia. It's apparent we just don't see eye to eye on these privacy issues. And that's okay, because at least we don't have thought police yet. ;)

57. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

Its not just because of the iPhone. This is about encryption. iOS has been using encryption since iOS 7 (Im really not sure about the version number that encryption became standard) where Android did not adopt user available encryption until 5.0 and making encryption a standard function of Android until 6.0 Marshmallow. Marshmallow currently runs on only a select few devices (The number of devices will continue to rise as people upgrade or receive the 6.0 update) so comparing what is going on with this iPhone to the vast majority of android devices is asinine. As encryption continues to make its way into Android devices this is a topic that will be revisited as the government will then "try to compel" Google to decrypt any Android device that was owned by someone who commits this kind of atrocity. What is happening right now in the news, this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is to become a battle between the government and tech companies but the results of this battle will have grave results for any future battles between the government, or any government for that matter, and tech companies. Emotions are high because of this tragedy where 14 peoples lives were prematurely ended because of two scumbags and I get that but as much as we want to know why and if there was anyone else involved we need to take a step back and look at the broader consequences of what the government is asking and what repercussions it can have in the future for the government, tech companies and the public... Exia

58. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

What repercussions will be of more concern than already known by government intervention? If not a phone, it will be something else. I'm not sure why some people think government is out to get them. Remember, WE are the purpose of and reason for the government's existence. I'm not numb to the fact of governmental imperfection, but I really feel if we don't leave some sort of backup control in place, we open ourselves up to more than privacy issues. What you're contending, is that privacy should be the utmost priority even if it means lives are lost or in dire threat. Even criminals should be able to use and hide behind high tech to conduct business? I'm not understanding the concept that criminals or terrorists should be equally equipped in defensive strategy as the common people. I understand the importance of privacy, but not if my family is in danger of possible attacks. As I have so eloquently stated, I'm not worried about the government snooping on me. I have nothing in my lifestyle that would provoke suspicion from it to spend time and money to say hi to my wife, my kids or myself. My concern is why you would want to try to protect the defensive measure against anyone that does commit such an "atrocity" whether isolated or larger scale. This isn't emotion, it is seemly trying to dismiss security as non-essential. The new war won't be done with just weapons. It will be done with high tech tools. Giving anyone the advantage to hide behind such tools, is like handing an arsenal of weapons to an enemy. Someone has to have some sort of control or there will be no control. John B.

59. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

If your not worried about your privacy then go ahead and prove it; Post your bank account number(s), credit card number(s), your address, email addresses with passwords and any of the other sensitive information that you don't want out in the open.Why do you lock your door when you leave your house? You don't want pedophiles to have pictures of your kids so you don't post photos of them on websites associated with pedophilia, right? Everyone has information that they don't want out in the open and it has nothing to do with them being evil or having nefarious intentions. In your logic there is no need to hide these things, so why do you? Encryption hides information when you make a transaction whether in the real world or on the internet. What the government is asking for, a backdoor in to iOS, sounds all good and fine until you start to realize that the logistics of securing and protecting that opening that has been created from all outside sources, it quickly will become a nightmare. No I am not paranoid that the government is out to get me; there are plenty of other outside sources that I fear more than the government. Point here is your only looking at this situation through one side of a two-way mirror. Once it, a backdoor or any vulnerability, has been made/discovered then there will be an exponential boom of people, governments, and other companies trying to exploit it. Its not about paranoia or conspiracy theories. This is about common sense. The government has all ready bumbled this situation enough by trying to reset the phones iCloud password therefore locking themselves and Apple out of any potential information contained within. Now they want to "compel" Apple "hack" the phone to make up for their incompetence? And you want to hand them a key to access your information at will? Sounds dangerous..... Exia

60. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

You are a patriot?

28. Fissionline

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 01, 2015

The software to unlock an iPhone AND maintain the data that is stored on it doesn't exist. Apple doesn't have access to the encrypted data because it doesn't have access to the private key which is on the device. Returned phones are wiped blank by apple (bypassing the killswitch) before the device undergoes the refurbishment process.

13. ZeneticX

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

This is all marketing ploy by Apple to increase sales for their 5se and 7 models. Especially 7 since it's going to lose the headphone jack

17. another1

Posts: 157; Member since: Dec 25, 2015

You are truly an idiot if you think this is in any shape or form a marketing ploy.

49. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Wisdom says that if someone has abusable power, expect them to abuse that power. The government is no exception, and has proven repeatedly to be the rule. Enough with you're BS Apple.

50. greyarea

Posts: 267; Member since: Aug 14, 2015

How do you go from, 'government abuses power repeatedly', to 'apple is BS because it's not giving in to this same abusive government'? Isn't that just a further argument for the government not getting this backdoor power?

21. therealestmc

Posts: 680; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

That's hilarious! You think people are buying the iPhone hair for the headphone jack?

7. jellmoo

Posts: 2721; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Apple honestly can't win here, can they? They do the right thing and stand up for privacy rights and they still get flak for this being a PR stunt or a marketing move. I don't care *why* Apple is taking this stand, I'm just glad that somebody is, and I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt so long as they continue to be the good guys in this.

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