back to article Apple fires legal salvo at FBI for using All Writs law in iPhone brouhaha

Apple has filed a motion to effectively bin an earlier court order forcing it to help the FBI break into a San Bernardino killer's iPhone. The Cupertino giant said the Feds' demands were a "wild overreach" and would grant the US government a "dangerous" power. The extensive motion to vacate [PDF] tears apart the FBI's claims …

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WTF?

Comey, the Master of Overreach

Comey bleats:

But then I step back and say law enforcement, which I'm part of, really does save people's lives, rescue kids, rescue neighborhoods from terrorists, and we do that a whole lot through court orders and search warrants of mobile devices. So if we're going to move to a world where that is not possible any more then the world will not end, but it'll be a different world.

Such rhetorical garbage, "a world where that [the ability to save people's lives , rescue kids, rescue neighborhoods from terrorists] is not possible". Such hyperbole (as John Fugelsang aptly points out, those that engage in hyperbole are worse than Hitler) is of course bullshit, but stock-in-trade for those like Mr. Comey.

Mr. Comey, please go and humbly ask any of the other TLA agencies (especially the one whose acronym starts with 'N') as to how impossible it is to "save people's lives, rescue kids, rescue neighborhoods from terrorists, blah-de-blah-blah-blah"...er... decrypt a piece of encrypted text. You may be surprised by their answer. Or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

Hereby invoking Godwin's Law...

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Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

I for one am sick to death of people thinking that "Godwin's Law" posts are either especially insightful or deeply witty. Please! Can we just get through a single thread without a bunch of people waiting to leap in and go "GODWIN'S LAW!"

You know what Nazi Germany was, by the way? State-managed corporatism. I.e. if the ruling party said 'do something', a company better do it regardless of whether they received adequate payment or if it was just a legal requirement. Not unlike the US government telling Apple they must develop new firmware just because the FBI wants it.

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"rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

Shouldn't this be drug dealers or gangs? I think the <insert enemy du jour> didn't quite scan here.

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Big Brother

Re: "rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

Unsocial behaviour, gangs, corporate greed, personal greed, lack of GOOD government regulation, drunkeness, bad driving, un-controlled guns, over-eating, drug dealers, theft, weather, flu etc are all far worse threats than Terrorists. Esp. in USA.

Apart from "9-11" how many people on USA soil have been killed by terrorism or even war since 1916 (last 100 years)?

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Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

I for one am sick to death of people thinking that "Godwin's Law" posts are either especially insightful or deeply witty. Please! Can we just get through a single thread without a bunch of people waiting to leap in and go "GODWIN'S LAW!"

Calm down, and read this, it's Friday.

You're welcome :).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

"Nazi Germany"

This. So much This.

Also the former Soviet Union, North Korea, China, and a host of other dictatorships, that mr Comey conveniently fails to mention as precedent of what is suggested here.

Comey is a freakin communist who hates freedom and free enterprise, a bureaucrat without soul.

The threats to our children ("terrorists will get them unless you do as i say") is outright disgusting, and the man should be thrown in jail just for that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

I had a "motion to vacate" just after breakfast this morning.

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Re: "rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

The word "terrorism" has such an overly broad definition in the U.S. now that this act is considered an act of domestic terrorism. Pretty much any random shooting incident involving several people is considered to be a terror attack. The phone's owner is therefore a terrorist.

Besides, many people were killed at Pearl Harbor and that was a U.S. territory at the time. So to answer your question, at least 1,117 have died on U.S. soil.

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Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

Can we at least accept that Godwin is an unashamed troll? And a good one at that?

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Facepalm

Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

Hereby invoking Godwin's Law...

Perhaps, my dear Coward, you might consider reading the entire post, instead of merely scanning it for keywords...and perhaps also read up on what Godwin's Law really says. If you had done either of these, you'd see that this is not an instance of Godwin's Law at all. The good Mr. Fugelsang was engaging in irony, as the phrase "is worse than Htiler" is itself hyperbole.

Sheesh!

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Re: "rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

Your definition gives 1,117 have died over the 100 years apparently ignores 9-11. But let's say it was 10 times more making it 12,000 over 100 have died from "terror" attacks. Compare that to this statistic I found with a quick search:

"There were 30,057 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2013 in which 32,719 deaths occurred. This resulted in national motor vehicle crash death rates of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Fatality Facts - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety"

I believe we can safely infer that a "terror" attack is one of the less probably ways out of a million ways to die in the west...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Comey, the Master of Overreach

Perhaps he/she/it was just bored of your ranting and wanted you to shut up? Just sayin'...

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If at the end of the legal process Apple is required to do this they still have the option of carefully selecting a suitable employee http://dilbert.com/strip/2011-09-04

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Love that Dilbert. Of course they could give Wally three more people to help him gather and correlate the data and then they could have it in six months or so.

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All the way through the article I was stopped from concentrating on it by wondering who it was that got mind wiped Mat Damon, Ben Afleck or -who was the other one?

Anyway once the sooooper-cool nerds divine their duty, do they get terminated or isolated?

Or a long stay in a country far far away?

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"the world will not end"

"So if we're going to move to a world where that is not possible any more then the world will not end, but it'll be a different world." -- James Comey

So he knows that the world will not end. And he also bloody well knows that first, the FBI is at fault for this problem, and secondly that very probably there's nothing on the device regarding terrorism. Did the Paris shooters use any encrypted technology? No, it was all normal messages.

No, the world will not end. And it will be the same world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "the world will not end"

No, the world will not end. And it will be the same world.

Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent.

If Apple win this one then it officially becomes easy for a terrorist network to operate clandestinely before and after such atrocities as San Bernadino, with compartmentalisation provided and guaranteed by iPhone. Anyone else out there think that is a bad idea?

The problem with this debate is that the loud majority selfishly assume that something bad will never happen to them. They even expect and demand law enforcement agencies prevent it. You do know what zero policing results in, don't you? The FBI an other law enforcement agencies must be close to giving up wasting their time.

One wonders what Apple's attitude would be if Tim Cook had been personally affected by San Bernadino.

The strength of a society can be measured in how well it adapts to new things and new threats. If the US cannot reconcile the need for effective policing with the expectations of the population then unfortunately events like 9/11, San Bernadino and Oklahoma City become more likely, not less likely.

Oh, and changing th iCloud password is a good idea. It prevents an accomplice deleting data.

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Re: "the world will not end"

"Oh, and changing th iCloud password is a good idea. It prevents an accomplice deleting data."

Do you really think that Apple deletes data when you ask for it to longer be on your cloud storage?

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Re: "the world will not end"

"nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent." Makes you wonder how Irish Terrorism didn't take over the world in the 70s.

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Re: "the world will not end"

Hey, atrocities are already nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent.

Worse, if this backdoor is developed, it will be impossible to stop it from getting out. What the FBI has today, totalitarian governments will have tomorrow, well-funded terrorists will have next week and criminals will have next month. Success against these terrorists will be founded on defeating the ideology of extremism: persuading people that killing doesn't make the world a better place.

Actually, instead of changing the iCloud password, wouldn't a much better idea be backing up the data then waiting for someone to access/delete it and tracing them?

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Re: "the world will not end" Irish Terrorists

Despite being funded by naive people in USA and supplied by Libya. (Early before the Provos (current SF & IRA) split with officials, the Russians did help them a bit, inc blowing up NATO microwave links in N.I.).

I'm implacable in my disdain for Apple Marketing and Pricing, but I'm on their side on this one.

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Re: "the world will not end"

>Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent.

What a load of unmitigated bollocks!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "the world will not end"

Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent.

If Apple win this one then it officially becomes easy for a terrorist network to operate clandestinely before and after such atrocities as San Bernadino, with compartmentalisation provided and guaranteed by iPhone. Anyone else out there think that is a bad idea?

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, or how terrorist activity is ACTUALLY monitored. About 80% of that is not about data, but about META data, information, I may add, which the FBI even has uncontrolled access to and on which basis the NSA actually issues kill orders to drones. In addition, you seem to forget that the security you want to break on pretty much a global basis (because that's what you get with backdoors) is the EXACT SAME security that prevents the criminal organisations that fund terrorists from stealing your money, and which protects the informants that brief us on what they're up to at great risk to their lives.

What is attempted here will benefit few, but will harm so many that the people attempting this should be locked up for crimes against humanity. Even terrorists won't be able to cause harm on such a large scale.

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Re: "the world will not end"

"Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent."

Good job you're AC; the "C" is particularly apt, given your fear of "any atrocity affecting you personally".

But be realistic, this isn't about saving any meaningful number of American lives; the odds of being killed by a terrorist in the USA or Western Europe are vanishingly small, like one in fifty million per year. The FBI are trying to push terrorism as a major thing that's worth spending tens of billions of tax dollars on, but the number of Americans killed by dogs in 2015 is twice the number killed by terrorists on American soil, so shouldn't the Federal Dog Catchers have twice the FBI's budget?

The TLAs have been hyping terrorism since the end of the cold war as a way of justifying their increased budgets; they won't be happy until every tax dollar is spent on "anti terrorism" and the US economy exists only to fund their fantasies; fear is their main tool in controlling public opinion on this, and they need to keep this centre stage as much as possible.

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Re: "the world will not end"

Changing the icloud password prevented remote deletion of the iphone's contents through logging into icloud.com->erase iphone content.

However, apple's response on that is interesting - if changing the icloud pass prevented auto-backup of information, then shirley the iphone already created a backup before the pass was changed. Ergo, apple has the required info in it's icloud storage servers.

It also begs the question, what exactly is backed up from an ios device apart from the small number of items checked/unchecked in settings->iCloud that can be useful for law enforcement

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Re: "the world will not end"

"Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent."

AC, you are a twat!

In 1996, the IRA bombed Docklands (for all of you who don't know, it's a business district in London). Two people where killed. I knew those people, so that atrocity DID affect me personally. The bomber was caught, not by breaking into his iPhone (they weren't invented yet), but good old-fashioned Police detective work.

You may have grown up in a nice safe environment, but believing that cuddly place will remain forever by giving security agencies carte blanche is nothing short of delusional.

You may remember this in 20 years time, when jack-booted storm troopers are kicking down your door (enforcing your new world order of things) because you farted in the wrong direction.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - John Emerich Acton

"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" - William Blackstone

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Makes you wonder how Irish Terrorism didn't take over the world in the 70s...

There never was any. Not according to the FBI[*]. The phrase you were searching for is: "Heroic Freedom Fighters".

A segment of the US population were/are still so obsessed with their revolution that they're ambivalent at best about British soldiers getting blown to bits. Plus there are lots of votes to be had around Boston.

[*] Neither the FBI nor the State Department ever registered the IRA as a terrorist organisation.

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Re: "the world will not end"

Which Irish terrorism is that then? Or do you mean IRA terrorism - idiot.

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Re: "the world will not end"

Especially since that flavor of terrorism was almost entirely funded by the USA.

In a great irony, one of the loudest (and most ignorant) proponents of strong action against brown people "terrorism" was actually a major fund raiser for the IRA throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s - Rep Peter King, a staunch Republican in both the US and Irish meanings of the word (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_T._King#Support_for_the_IRA )

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FAIL

@ yet another AC -- Re: "the world will not end"

If Apple win this one then it officially becomes easy for a terrorist network to operate clandestinely before and after such atrocities as San Bernadino, with compartmentalisation provided and guaranteed by iPhone. Anyone else out there think that is a bad idea?

Considering the alternative implied by your rhetorical device, no I don't.

Next question?

Oh, and BTW, it seems that it is already "easy for a terrorist network to operate clandestinely"; ref. Paris/Charlie Hebdo...where no encryption was required nor desired.

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Facepalm

Re: "the world will not end"

"Except that it will be a world where any atrocity affecting you personally will be nearly impossible to investigate and harder to prevent."

How is that different to now? Pretty much every significant terrorist attack of at least the last five years have been committed by people the various security services have later admitted to already knowing about. How will backdooring an iPhone help?

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" rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

Is this the USA he's talking about? Does it mean yet more refugees if Apple won't unlock that damn iPhone?

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Re: " rescue neighborhoods from terrorists"

Saw what was written.

Heard: "We're the good guys: give us unlimited power."

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Anonymous Coward

Image a US where a suspect did not have the fundamental right to self incriminate themselves.

People are regularly butchered into confessing.

Then along comes a law where they get that right.

Followed by the predictable bleating of law enforcement that they have their hands tied behind their backs. "How can they possibly convict people if they can't compel suspects to incriminate themselves?"

Funnily enough, the sky didn't fall down and the world didn't end.

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Anonymous Coward

coercion in the US is easy

When even fairly minor crimes have life sentences as the max possible jail term and Prosecutors ALWAYS go for the MAX. Then the plea bargin farce takes place.

The crim is left with a stark choice

- Do not incriminate yourself and face life without parole

- Reveal all and possibly get out in 15-20 years.

Faced with that choice... which one would you go for?

Prosecutors (District Attourneys) have to appear ultra tough because they need to get re-elected every few years, just like the Dog Catcher...(wtf). That is politicizing the justice system.

IMHO Justice needs to be Politically Agnostic. It must follow the law not the current politicial whims.

Just one of the things about the USA that is totally screwed up.

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Re: coercion in the US is easy

>>- Do not incriminate yourself and face life without parole

>>- Reveal all and possibly get out in 15-20 years.

>>Faced with that choice... which one would you go for?

The only logical one: Revolution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: coercion in the US is easy

They tried that once before. Look what it got them!

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Anonymous Coward

That right implies law enforcement agencies have other legal means to investigate and look for evidences. Once the only mean becomes your confession, guess what happen? A democratic society needs that criminals are found and jailed - or we would have to get back to personal revenges.

Beware of removing ways of looking for evidences... some people then may think they need to assert justice personally...

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No a democratic system needs that INNOCENT people are NOT put in jail for crimes they didn't commit. There are far more innocent people than criminals - they are the ones that need protecting from a police force that thinks itself ABOVE the laws they are supposed to enforce.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: coercion in the US is easy

They tried that once before. Look what it got them!

Well, they're not in the EU so it wasn't a complete disaster :)

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Anonymous Coward

That right implies law enforcement agencies have other legal means to investigate and look for evidences.

They do. Otherwise I think the American voter is due a refund to the tune of several billion per annum from agencies that clearly have thrown that money away if they say that the fate and security of the nation is now critically dependent on data held on the one off-the-shelf consumer device the killers did NOT wipe.

All that might, all that money, and life as we know it depends on one phone that may POSSIBLY hold some data? Pull the other one. Are you sure you haven't started beer o'clock a bit early?

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Police, Judiciary & Law Enforcement

Therein lies your problem: once you allow the Police ,FBI etc. to take on the role of Law Enforcement, which belongs with the judiciary, rather than the law of deterrence, detection and apprehension of criminals, then the 'Judge Dredd' syndrome will take over, as can be seen.

The system whereby senior law officials are elected is deeply flawed and open to politicisation and corruption, with areas of criminality becoming 'pet projects' for DA's/Judges in the run-up to election time.

I am also continually amazed by the apparent reluctance of large sections of the US populace resistant to change in the 'Holy of Holies', the Constitution, given the regular reference to the various Amendments...

Before you ask, no, I don't have an answer to your problems, apart from suggest that you rein your police forces back in, de-militarise them, and remind them who's who in the 'Protect & Serve' relationship.

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Anonymous Coward

> Once the only mean becomes your confession, guess what happen?

If that is the case, then why are they even looking at you?

If your confession is the only evidence, then they don't have a case at all.

That's the whole point.

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Completely pointless anyway

The phone itself wasn't even the property of the killer, but rather a device given to him by his employer, the City of San Bernardino. He had two other phones, both of which were destroyed. The probability of there being anything remotely useful is practically nil, who would be stupid enough to put information about the attack they were planning on a device owned by their target when they had two other options already in use? And if it did contain anything useful, why didn't he destroy it like the other two phones?

What really bothers me is how much attention has been paid to Apple rather than the IT department that failed to properly deploy Mobile Device Management software onto everyone's phones. They had such software installed on the vast majority of the phones they were given to employees anyway, so there was no reason why the Killer's phone wouldn't have it (in which case the city could've just reset the password themselves and none of this shit would've gotten anywhere close to the fan)

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Re: Completely pointless anyway

Indeed. The real headline should be "San Bernadino County and FBI FUBAR, Try to Blame Apple"

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Re: Completely pointless anyway

I think it is a good thing in the long run they screwed the pooch, as it forced this issue out in the open. And will create incentive for Apple to strengthen their protections even more - apparently the ability to install iOS updates in DFU mode (either in certain circumstances or completely) is headed for the chopping block. Without that, there would be no way for Apple to do what the FBI is trying to compel them to do. So by iOS 10 at the latest (but perhaps sooner) even if the FBI is able to set a precedent it will only matter for phones they've already collected, but not for the hundreds of millions of users that will be updated to the new version a few months after release.

Hopefully the other improvement they make is allowing a user selected key to be used to backup all iCloud backups (instead of just the portions containing more sensitive data like passwords and data in the Health app) That's the reason I've never used iCloud backups and continue backing up in iTunes, but it would be much more convenient to have nightly backups to iCloud instead of "every few weeks when I think about it" backups to iTunes. I understand the reason they don't do that, because if you forget your iCloud password you're screwed..but make a choice, it doesn't have to be mandatory I just want the option!

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bri

Re: Completely pointless anyway (@Crazy Operations Guy)

Well, MDM is quite often used to deploy policies and enable provisioning/wiping company data (its own apps for instance). It can thus enforce locking and other security policies, but it can't unlock your phone per se (well, they can factory reset/wipe it if so configured, but it wouldn't help in this case, quite the contrary) - they need PIN IIRC, not MDM password (which could be remotely reset).

Or it can for instance monitor phone's location, but FBI has better data from cell phone operator, so such a feature is not that useful here either, IMHO.

I can't see how even reasonably configured MDM could possibly help here. Having said that I completely agree with your first paragraph.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Completely pointless anyway

So by iOS 10 at the latest (but perhaps sooner) even if the FBI is able to set a precedent

They will exactly do that - set a precedent. So the ability will not go to the chopping block. It will be improved and productized as a part of the GovtOS package and its supporting GovtCloud services.

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Re: Completely pointless anyway

I suspect they figured this would be a high-profile incident - mad gunman, etc. - that they'd get a lot of angry public support on which would put Apple on the back-foot. "Apple helps vicious killer!" sort of thing. Unfortunately for the FBI, it's not having that effect. Well, it appears to have worked on Donald Trump but apart from him I mean...

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