NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is the latest to weigh-in on the Apple vs. FBI battle. And his opinion of the FBI’s claim that only Apple can bypass the security used on an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook? “Respectfully, that’s bulls***.”
The former NSA security contractor, who fled the US and lives in Russia, made the remarks while speaking via a video link from Moscow at advocacy group Common Cause’s Blueprint for Democracy conference in Washington DC.
The FBI argues the security protections in place on the iPhone in question cannot be broken by the FBI’s techs, and that the information that may be on the device is critical to its investigation of the December attack that left 14 people dead, and 22 wounded.
Snowden later tweeted a link to a blog post from the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology fellow Daniel Kahn Gilmor, who calls the FBI’s case against Apple a “power grab,” and the FBI’s case against Apple is an attempt to mislead the courts and the public about its ability to crack the protection on the iPhone.
“The FBI wants us to think that this case is about a single phone, used by a terrorist. But it’s a power grab: law enforcement has dozens of other cases where they would love to be able to compel software and hardware providers to build, provide, and vouch for deliberately weakened code. The FBI wants to weaken the ecosystem we all depend on for maintenance of our all-too-vulnerable devices. If they win, future software updates will present users with a troubling dilemma. When we’re asked to install a software update, we won’t know whether it was compelled by a government agency (foreign or domestic), or whether it truly represents the best engineering our chosen platform has to offer.”
Gilmor also says the FBI is misrepresenting the “auto-erase” feature it wants Apple to bypass and even shows how the FBI could work around it. Gilmor closes his post by saying:
“In short, they’re asking the public to grant them significant new powers that could put all of our communications infrastructure at risk, and to trust them to not misuse these powers. But they’re deliberately misleading the public (and the judiciary) to try to gain these powers. This is not how a trustworthy agency operates. We should not be fooled.”