Apple and the FBI continue to square-off in the debate over whether or not the firm should be forced to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
The debate ignited last week when Apple was ordered to create a ‘backdoor’ for the phone’s software to let the FBI access its content. Apple claimed that doing so would set a dangerous precedent and weaken the security of all iOS devices.
However, law enforcement agencies in the US have criticised Apple for its stance, and FBI director James Comey has written a blog post explaining that the request from the FBI is a one-time deal, not something with bigger ramifications.
“We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land," he wrote.
Comey explained that he hoped the public would understand this and realise that what was being requested would not lead to "the end of the world".
"I hope folks will take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other,” he said.
“Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure: privacy and safety.
"That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before."
“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out,” he wrote.
“At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”
Apple also published a Q&A on its website explaining more about the case and why it is fighting the order, noting that if Apple did create the backdoor the firm is likely to receive hundreds of other similar requests for information.
"Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks," the firm explained.
"Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cyber criminals. As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyber attacks."
Apple has had the support of several tech rivals in the case, including Google and Microsoft, but the US government appears determined to fight the case as hard as it can, even if that means taking on the nation's technology giants.
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