Companies Handing Source Code Over to Governments
ZDNet has an article on US government pressure on software companies to hand over copies of their source code. There’s no details because no one is talking on the record, but I also believe that this is happening.
When asked, a spokesperson for the Justice Dept. acknowledged that the department has demanded source code and private encryption keys before.
These orders would probably come from the FISA Court:
These orders are so highly classified that simply acknowledging an order’s existence is illegal, even a company’s chief executive or members of the board may not be told. Only those who are necessary to execute the order would know, and would be subject to the same secrecy provisions.
Given that Federighi heads the division, it would be almost impossible to keep from him the existence of a FISA order demanding the company’s source code.
It would not be the first time that the US government has reportedly used proprietary code and technology from American companies to further its surveillance efforts.
Top secret NSA documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reported in German magazine Der Spiegel in late-2013, have suggested some hardware and software makers were compelled to hand over source code to assist in government surveillance.
The NSA’s catalog of implants and software backdoors suggest that some companies, including Dell, Huawei, and Juniper — which was publicly linked to an “unauthorized” backdoor — had their servers and firewall products targeted and attacked through various exploits. Other exploits were able to infiltrate firmware of hard drives manufactured by Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, and Samsung.
Last year, antivirus maker and security firm Kaspersky later found evidence that the NSA had obtained source code from a number of prominent hard drive makers — a claim the NSA denied — to quietly install software used to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers.
“There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,” said one of the researchers.
The problem is, of course, is that any company forced by the US to hand over their source code would also be forbidden from talking about it.
It’s the sort of thing China does:
For most computing and networking equipment, the chart says, source code must be turned over to Chinese officials. But many foreign companies would be unwilling to disclose code because of concerns about intellectual property, security and, in some cases, United States export law.
The chart also calls for companies that want to sell to banks to set up research and development centers in China, obtain permits for workers servicing technology equipment and build “ports” to allow Chinese officials to manage and monitor data processed by their hardware.
The draft antiterrorism law pushes even further, calling for companies to store all data related to Chinese users on servers in China, create methods for monitoring content for terror threats and provide keys to encryption to public security authorities.