Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants


Washington Post:

Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants

Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

The key is the encryption that Apple mobile devices automatically put in place when a user selects a passcode, making it difficult for anyone who lacks that passcode to access the information within, including photos, e-mails and recordings. Apple once maintained the ability to unlock some content on devices for legally binding police requests but will no longer do so for iOS 8, it said in the new privacy policy.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Terrible idea.
I am all for requiring law enforcement to get a warrant to look inside your phone, tablet, &c but making it impossible for them to execute a warrant sounds like obstruction of justice.


Well if this is the case drug dealers, pedophiles and terrorists will be buying APPLE products from now on.


I think that eventually there will be a lawsuit against Apple because of this and the government will require them to make change something so that police can look at the data on the phone.


I’m not sure why it is a bad idea for a user to retain sole control over his own information. Why should the device manufacturer necessarily have access to it?


I think the problem comes in when a user has committed a crime or plans to commit a crime and has data about that crime on his phone. Let’s say that a terrorist has e-mailed someone about his plans via the phone and neither him nor his e-mail contact will allow the police to access the content. What then?


Once again the innocent are penalized because of the actions of the bad apples. I agree the user should have sole control, but homeland security or police doing investigations will still want to be able to do search warrants.


Well, it’s not just terrorists and pedophiles who want to keep their data secret. Some folks just like their privacy, companies have proprietary data as well as doctors, lawyers, &c. All these people are foolish if they don’t encrypt their data with the best programs available. Even with a warrant you can’t be forced to give up your password.
BUT making warrants impossible to enforce is a different matter. Imagine a storage company that offered “police proof” lockers. That’s what Apple is doing.

It has just been in the news that Yahoo! was threatened with a $250,000/day fine for refusing to turn over user data so I wonder if Apple might be court-ordered to “update” their OS.


Well said.


Oh. I completely agree with you. I like my privacy as well. I just worry about the potential for criminals to get away with their activities if it is impossible to execute a search warrant.


The government’s ability to track YOU is not about 19 guys and a camel, it’s about YOUR money, and making sure you aren’t hiding any from them. When the NSA scandal broke with Snowden’s revelations, the NSA was asked point blank by Congress “how many terrorists did you arrest with this data?” And they could only come up with one case in which this data only played a peripheral role. ONE peripheral case in several years of this level of collection. Really think about that for a moment: several years they had been violating the Constitution collecting information on tens of millions of people with their methods of data collection yet they couldn’t point to any consistent record of terrorists stopped and/or arrested based on this data collection, yet the government insists that it remain in place. Why is that? I can tell you, follow the money…

Now on the other hand, this NSA and other law enforcement data collection has the potential destroy the competitiveness of American technology companies on the global market. Think about it: what foreign entity will trust Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc., with their data if they know the NSA and other agencies can snoop on it anytime. What you are seeing today is Apple fighting back and Google is right behind them. If Apple and Google are forced to keel over for the benefit of the governments in the US, their overseas business prospects are as good as destroyed because no overseas entity will ever trust them and in the long run, that is not going to be good for us.

All people can think of in the short term is this terrorist, that human trafficker, those porno producers, these pedophiles, but they don’t understand the greater picture. Have to remember in the olden days, many of these people were caught with regular police work. And they’re still being caught that way. Having access to their tech was a short cut, nothing more. The US intelligence apparatus is still developing its best information through other channels as they always have. Have to remember the terrorists have always been conscious of the intelligence capabilities of the West.

So it goes back to why the government still insists on scanning all of us. It’s not about anyone’s terrorist proclivities, it’s about our money.


All this does is remove Apple’s liability. With the IOS 8 update, they are essentially just washing their hands clean of the matter. The update makes it where the encryptions on the phone are known only to the consumer, and to that consumer alone and who he/she chooses to tell. Even if Apple wanted to cooperate with authorities to obtain the code in compliance with a warrant, the update simply makes it where Apple isn’t able to obtain it by any of their means available - it falls to their consumer to provide it under threat of a search warrant. It’s really cleaver actually - they don’t betray their customers and they don’t have to cooperate with law enforcement because it would be impossible for them to do so. Essentially they win; no legal action can be taken against them and they don’t alienate their consumers. It’s a sound business strategy and they removed a dilemma that plagues so many other data related companies.

Law enorcement, can however, still gain access to Apple’s servers and get any information that the customer stored to icloud. They could also obtain call logs from the consumer service provider. Text messages, pictures, calendars, and memos stored are not accessible to law enforcement unless the customer decides to play ball and give up the encryption code that only they know.


FACT: Anything and everything we do online is known to NSA. To believe otherwise is sheer stupidity.


The incognito button on your browser and nameless prepaid phones with internet connections are your best friend.


Apple isn’t a poor company. I’m sure they can afford all the best attorneys to match whoever the government sends to press the case. Even if they lose in that scenario, maybe we can pray they’ll move headquarters to another jurisdiction where they won’t be subject to any requirements to allow monitoring.


It’s a marketing ploy. LE will still be able to access the info if they need access.


This sounds great but at this point you can’t trust any US corporation to be honest. The US government has destroyed any trust one can have that your privacy is in any way protected. It would be foolish to rely on Apple’s claim. I wish that weren’t so.

First, in order to even investigate someone’s data the police should already have some evidence. So the only evidence can’t be the phone itself. Second, terrorists are not likely to rely on iPhone’s encryption. Third, the biggest terrorist who hides behind secrecy and encryption is our government. I’m not worried about 'terrorism, which is rare, compared to the US government which is collecting all my non encrypted data.


I guess I’m thinking in an old technology sort of way. If buy a notebook to keep names, addresses, notes, and an assortment of personal information in hard copy, the notebook manufacturer doesn’t insist that they get to keep a copy of whatever I write.

I used to have a reel to reel tape recorder. It didn’t demand that it keep track of everything I recorded. My old film camera didn’t keep a copy of every photo I took. But my digital camera keeps them forever.

It just seems to me that as a nation we have given up our privacy quite readily for the sake of convenience.

There is no need for Google to record every search I make. But at least they use the data to make money. Why should it be made available to third parties, which is inevitable? In fact, I might be willing to pay for a search engine that didn’t track my every move, or a phone that didn’t track my every movement, my every call.

When Catholics become the enemy we may well regret our decisions to let the government to have access to all our data. Some day, someone will subpoena my records from CAF and decide to charge me with hate speech for opposing gay marriage or the HHS mandate.


I agree with Apple here, I dont think they should assist LE with this, even with a court order, today, it seems so many laws are created that effect everyone, but only end catching a few criminals…in the end, the Govt/ LE cannot infringe upon one innocent person, even if that means 10 criminals get away with their crimes.

Kind of goes along with the saying…‘it is far better to have 100 guilty people free, than to have one innocent person in jail’…seems the justice dept has forgotten that.

Plus, Im sure most halfway intelligent criminals know to use prepaid cell phones and not a contract phone, that would resolve everything, as no name or personal info needed for most prepaid cell phones.


If Apple can provide this level of secure encryption, so could other products, and they should. So should Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and of course, all credit cards. Perhaps there could be a new era of competition in the matter of privacy. But why is Blackberry still more secure than an I-Phone?


Obstruction of justice is when someone takes positive action to destroy evidence, or declines to turn over evidence when asked. This is not what Apple is doing. They are declining to collect the information in the first place. You might as well accuse a wedding photographer for not photographing a bank robbery.

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