If the FBI is able to enforce a court order that would force Apple to assist in the decryption of an iPhone 5c that was in the hands of a mass shooter, the company’s engineers would have several options to resist against having to work on the order. In fact, they could potentially leave Apple off the hook in complying with the agency.
The New York Times has interviewed several current and former Apple employees involved in the development and engineering of products and security as well as former executives. These employees stand with not only CEO Tim Cook’s insistence that the manufacturer-sponsored breaking of encryption is all sorts of wrong, but with a general mindset in the security sector that is protective of private encryption.
Some employees may stall as much as the company could allow, using up any bit of off-time to avoid doing assigned work. Others may end up quitting their jobs — with confidence of being quickly picked up in a high-demand tech job market.
Apple states in court submissions that it would have to assemble a team of six to 10 engineers to fulfill the government’s order. Based on how existing staff clusters are sectioned off from each other, Apple would not make the effort to build that team until it has no further legal options.
One former federal prosecutor theorizes that if every capable engineer were to walk from their jobs, Apple could demonstrate to the court that it could not fulfill the order and would not be forced to. Rather, if the court finds those engineers refusing to comply with the order, Apple may be held in contempt and could be penalized with daily accumulative fines.
Source: New York Times