A perspective on Apple's iPhone security battle

February, 19, 2016 Branden Spikes

There has been a lot of talk about whether the Justice Department of the US Government can ask Apple to comply with an FBI order to allow access to an iPhone. These are my thoughts on the subject.

To understand Apple’s position on this, consider that since the iPhone 6, Apple has really bolstered the security of their brand and their devices. Now that iPhones are so secure, setting this precedent of undoing that bolstered security would be not just dangerous for our justice system, but also bad for Apple’s business. From a legal perspective, it would essentially be saying that the government has the right to ask manufacturers of security systems to be able to breach them, or to create back doors to get around them. This would surely send all customers of said security systems offshore for real security. On the other hand, from a commercial standpoint, this could really hurt Apple as well. This is definitely not a precedent Apple wants to set, and nor should they.

Think of the phone as a safe, and Apple as the manufacturer of the safe. Someone keeps something in his/her safe that the US Gov't wants. They could subpoena the person for the safe, and even for the combination (but thankfully cannot force the combination out of the person), but ultimately he or she would have to be willing to willingly give up the combination. The DoJ can't just go to the safe manufacturer and demand that they open it for them. Whether the person happens to be dead or not is irrelevant.

As a thought experiment, imagine if the safe manufacturer did indeed open it for them. They're not going to be selling many safes after that, are they?… I sure wouldn't buy a safe from someone that offered to open it for the government upon death or whatever. A safe manufacturer has to be able to sell safes that are guaranteed secure, period. An iPhone is no different.

Branden Spikes Founder, CTO, Spikes Security


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