The White House today backed the Department of Justice, following Apple’s claim that creating a backdoor for investigators to use to examine an iPhone 5c used by one of the gunmen in the tragic December terrorist mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. would lead ot it being used “over and over again”
In a briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest deferred to the Justice Department but said it’s important to recognize that the government is not asking Apple to redesign its product or “create a new backdoor to its products.”
Earnest said the case was instead about federal investigators learning “as much as they can about this one case.”
“The president certainly believes that is an important national priority,” Earnest told reporters at the White House.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Apple to comply with an FBI request to help the bureau to extract data from an iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino tragedy. The feds say Apple “declined to provide that assistance voluntarily.” The device is protected by a passcode, preventing the unlocking of the device by investigators. Apple says it does not have the ability to unlock or decrypt the data stored on the device.
The government’s “just this once, and just the tip,” argument was predicted earlier today in an open letter to Apple customers from the company’s CEO, Tim Cook.
“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”
Apple believes that opening a device to investigators, whether they actually are able to perform such a feat or not, opens owner’s personal information up to not just the government, but the bad actors of the world too.
“In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” wrote Cook.