Recent iPhone update deepens rifts between Apple and FBI


Apple announced this week that its newest security update would cut off access to the Lightning port on iPhones. Law enforcement agencies like the FBI were irritated by this change, declaring that it would limit their access to information if needed during an investigation.

The development is proposed to disable the Lightning port, located at the bottom of the iPhones, 60 minutes after locking the device. A defence mechanism against hackers and identity thieves, the update will also prevent government forces from using data extraction devices that normally surpass iPhone’s heavy encryption.

This security feature is merely the latest addition to “cat-and-mouse”, described by director of the National Security Law and Policy Program at George Mason University Jamil Jaffer as the game played between Apple and the FBI. The rivalry has escalated over the years, with issues relating to public privacy and national security being hotly debated.

The update is indicative of a no-compromise stance taken by the two opposing parties.

Amongst those vehemently against the update was Republican Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, a keen campaigner for issues pertaining to national security. He stated that Apple “should be more than willing to cooperate with valid warrants from U.S. law enforcement. Criminals and terrorists should never take precedence over the safety of the American people.”

Those in behalf of privacy and protection argued that the update shielded innocent people from having their data misused by criminals and other ill-intentioned individuals and groups, who could just as easily have infiltrated their information as the FBI.

Director Kevin Bankston from the Open Technology Institute, a division of the impartial think-tank New America, said views like those held by Senator Cotton “profoundly [miss] the point.”

“Apple is helping to ensure against a broad range of attacks by anyone and everyone who might attempt to leverage the same class of vulnerability that the police have been exploiting. Any hack that the cops can use can be used by bad guys, too, whether they be criminals or spies or repressive foreign regimes, and that’s who Apple is in an arms race with,” commented Bankston.

Although Apple hasn’t yet implemented the update, it is rumoured that there is an antidote to the situation. GrayShift, which markets a 15,000 USD iPhone-cracking tool called GrayKey, has suggested that it is in the process of developing software that will assist users, in particular law enforcement agencies, to break encryption on iPhones in spite of the new security feature.

Jaffer, however, voices concerns over the lack of compromise between the two parties, stating that we may wind up in a situation “where neither side is willing to work together in good faith [if] a mass casualty terrorist or a compelling case comes along.

“We’ll have lost on both privacy and security because we’ll have people who’ve been harmed and we’ll end up in a legislative situation where the law overcorrects.”

About Lee Hazell

Lee Hazell is a cyber security consultant with a keen interest in anything tech or security related. Follow Lee on .

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