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Recently, the FBI issued a court order based on the All Writs Act for Apple to disable certain security features on one specific iPhone by installing a version of iOS in the RAM, allowing the FBI to try an unlimited number of passwords, without risking a complete erase, or a delay in attempts.

In this issue, what specifically is the point of view from the FBI's side? There are a lot of websites and resources backing Apple and providing reasons that Apple is right, but not a ton backing the FBI. What are some reasons the FBI is correct in doing this?

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  • Any news article that discusses this issue includes some quotes from authorities and tells you the FBI's point of view. Have you tried researching this first? As for whether the FBI is correct, that is a matter of opinion and not answerable here.
    – J Doe
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 22:45
  • I think this question could be extended in Law for more details. Also, you need to make some research about your question because if you're asking wheter the FBI has some reason (or none) we couldn't answer that but with opinions.
    – nelruk
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 2:36

2 Answers 2

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The FBI's argument is that there could be information on the phone that could help stop future terrorist attacks.

Specifically, the FBI is asking for a "a signed software update which will disable an iPhone feature which deletes data after a certain number of failed attempts at guessing the PIN (which, along with a per-device secret, is the seed from which the encryption key is derived). On iPhones with relatively short PINs, this effectively "breaks" the encryption because a small key space can be quickly searched." They can then use this insecure operating system to break into the phone.

The FBI is not concerned with this compromising the security of other devices, because in order for someone to use this back-door they would have to gain access to the file that only the FBI and apple have access to. The FBI trusts its own security measures, and apple users already trust apple not to let their private key for system updates fall into the hands of hackers. So from the FBI's perspective, there isn't a substantial risk to apple users and there is a significant possibility of preventing future terrorist attacks.

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  • To be a little more precise, it would be gaining access to a file that the fbi, apple, and anyone with an 'infected' (for lack of a better word) iphone has access to. Every time the software gets used, that's one more place from which bad guys can obtain it.
    – atk
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 5:16
  • @atk Can you explain a little more why that is necessarily the case? My understanding is that what's dangerous is not the insecure OS, but rather the update to apply that insecure OS which is signed by apple. Without that signed update there is no way to get that insecure OS onto any other phone. I would think that after applying the OS change, the update would delete the signed update from the phone for security reasons.
    – lazarusL
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:57
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    you hit on one way for the update to be used: failure to delete it. We also know that files don't just dissapear from hard drives when they are deleted. Instead, they still exist but simply have no pointer to them. If Apple (or the FBI) does not securely delete the update, it can be reconstructed by restoring deleted files (not recycle bin but with special tools). And if Apple or the FBI make mistakes with the update, that can lead to an exposure. Or a malware infected phone that copies the update to pastebin before installing it... it will get out even if we can't yet predict how
    – atk
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 0:59
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The points backing the FBI is that this is potential terrorist that can end many lives. The cost of human life and the duty to protect citizens, far outweighs privacy in the United states because our government(or any government) is built upon the philosophy that citizens give up some rights in order to be protected. By being under a government, a social contract is created.

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    But this isn't a potential terrorist. This was an actual terrorist. The only potential part of this is that there is conceivably useful information on the device.
    – Brythan
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 3:28
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    Your answer is so generical (except for the very first sentence) that it could support either position. There is already a social contract about it, and it stipulates that such invasion of privacy must be controlled by a judge based in evidence. The "service door" that the FBI asks for would allow anyone with the technical knowledge to invade people's privacy, without any oversight or possibility of appeal.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 8:13
  • @bilbo_pingouin No, it isn't. There is currently an actual phone that Apple could change to make it hackable. That phone was used by an actual terrorist (who did not own the phone). And the FBI has gone to great lengths to argue that it is not about future situations. Just this phone. It's Apple that's arguing about the future potential. The FBI's position is that this is an exceptional case.
    – Brythan
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 0:00
  • @Brythan, you're right, it appears I was somehow misinformed. Or more specifically, I only read the other side of the story and as this question specifically asks about the FBI POV.... deleted my comment. Thanks for the information :) Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 8:05

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