FBI and Apple's Encryption
The New York Times is reporting that Apple encryption is hampering an FBI investigation:
In an investigation involving guns and drugs, the Justice Department obtained a court order this summer demanding that Apple turn over, in real time, text messages between suspects using iPhones.
Apple’s response: Its iMessage system was encrypted and the company could not comply.
Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption. The case, coming after several others in which similar requests were rebuffed, prompted some senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to advocate taking Apple to court, several current and former law enforcement officials said.
While that prospect has been shelved for now, the Justice Department is engaged in a court dispute with another tech company, Microsoft.
Several people have asked me in e-mail if this is the case I was referrring to here:
There’s a persistent rumor going around that Apple is in the secret FISA Court, fighting a government order to make its platform more surveillance-friendly—and they’re losing. This might explain Apple CEO Tim Cook’s somewhat sudden vehemence about privacy. I have not found any confirmation of the rumor.
It’s not. The rumor I am hearing is not about access to a particular user and his communications. It is about general access to iOS data and communications. And it’s in the FISA court, which means that it’s not a domestic criminal matter.
To reiterate: this is a rumor. I have no confirmation. But I know three reporters that are poking around, looking for the story.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.