If the FBI can force Apple to build a special hack software for the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino case, could the software put other iPhones at risk of attack and data theft? Today, FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers that the special software that they are asking the company to make them “likely” could not be used on other phones. Comey also warned lawmakers that a “world with universal strong encryption” was one where the FBI could not do its job of protecting the American people.
Here’s the background: Last Friday, a California court issued an order telling Apple to create a new operating system for the iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorism case (the phone belongs to Farook’s employer, San Bernardino County.) The FBI requested a new operating system, derisively nicknamed by some FBIOS, to install on the phone in order to bypass two security features, enabling the FBI to unlock it.
Comey has pushed back against accusations that the bureau is using the San Bernardino case as a means to establish a new precedent and force Apple to break into more phones.
In the motion that Apple filed Thursday, they argue: “This is not a case about one isolated iPhone … Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe … No court has ever granted the government power to force companies like Apple to weaken its security systems to facilitate the government’s access to private individuals’ information.”