When Apple was ordered to help assist the US government in decoding an iPhone 5c that belonged to the San Bernardino mass shooter, CEO Tim Cook was quick to type up and publish a response against the thrust of that court ruling. But it didn’t file a formal response to the order. The federal magistrate judge overseeing the case said Apple had five business days to respond.
According to two anonymous sources, instead of next Tuesday, February 23, the company is reportedly getting until Friday the 26th to compose its arguments. Three days may not seem like much time, but it’s all the extra time Apple might need to nail the finer points.
Voices continue to fill in on Cook’s argument that allowing a “backdoor” to the iPhone’s encryption would lead to a slippery slope of continual government requests for access to that backdoor that would essentially be violating all Apple’s customers’ privacy.
Beyond what is likely to become a building court case that will head to a currently-indeterminate Supreme Court, the core issue for law enforcement right now goes down to access to the iPhone 5c. John McAfee, creator of the McAfee AntiVirus software and US presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, has penned an op-ed for Business Insider saying that he and his team will take three weeks and, “free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone.”
McAfee uses this as an opportunity to go into a policy dive, railing against the government’s reliance of the All Writs Act of 1789 for building its case for getting Apple to build a decryption tool and asking why the Department of Defense does not have the best hackers in the world on its payroll.
Because the FBI will not hire anyone with a 24-inch purple mohawk, 10-gauge ear piercings, and a tattooed face who demands to smoke weed while working and won’t work for less than a half-million dollars a year. But you bet your ass that the Chinese and Russians are hiring similar people with similar demands and have been for many years.
Hacking comes from innate talent, McAfee said. “A room full of Stanford computer science graduates cannot compete with a true hacker without even a high-school education.”
The self-titled (but publicly ascribed) “cybersecurity legend” might have made some points, but ultimately misses the big one: that the government does not have reason to rescind its court-sanctioned request and that Apple will eventually oppose it on legal grounds. Both sides are prepared to argue to set the precedent on how the law should tread upon digital privacy and the bounds of how much of it a company can promise.