Analysts and lawmakers warn FBI that ramifications over its demand that Apple unlock San Bernardino killer’s iPhone ‘could snowball around the world’
Authoritarian governments including Russia and China will demand greater access to mobile data should Apple lose a watershed encryption case brought by the FBI, leading technology analysts, privacy experts and legislators have warned.
Apple challenges ‘chilling’ demand to decrypt San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone
Apple’s decision to resist a court order to unlock a password-protected iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino killers has created a worldwide privacy shockwave, with campaigners around the world expecting the struggle to carry major implications for the future of mobile and internet security. They warned that Barack Obama’s criticism of a similar Chinese measure last year now risked ringing hollow.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a leading legislator on privacy and tech issues, warned the FBI to step back from the brink or risk setting a precedent for authoritarian countries.
“This move by the FBI could snowball around the world. Why in the world would our government want to give repressive regimes in Russia and China a blueprint for forcing American companies to create a backdoor?” Wyden told the Guardian.
“Companies should comply with warrants to the extent they are able to do so, but no company should be forced to deliberately weaken its products. In the long run, the real losers will be Americans’ online safety and security.”
Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said the FBI was using an “unprecedented reading of a nearly 230-year old law” that put “at risk the foundations of strong security for our people and privacy in the digital age.
“If upheld, this decision could force US technology companies to actually build hacking tools for government against their will, while weakening cybersecurity for millions of Americans in the process,” Wyden said.