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Encrypted smartphones: Trump increases pressure on Apple in the dispute over iPhone back doors

2020-01-15T03:49:26.119Z

ZEIT ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates



Washington (dpa) - In the dispute over the encryption of smartphones and access for investigative authorities, President Donald Trump has increased the pressure on the US technology giant Apple. Trump wrote on Twitter that his government was helping Apple "all the time" on trade and other issues.

However, the company refuses to provide authorities with access to encrypted phones “used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements”. Trump's request to those responsible for the company: "You must now face the challenge and help our great country!"

Earlier, Apple had rejected criticism from Secretary of Justice William Barr in the flared-up dispute. Barr said Monday that Apple had provided “no substantial help” to investigate a Saudi officer's attack at a Florida naval base in December. He urges the company to remove the password protection from two of the assassin's iPhones. Apple categorically refuses to open such and other back doors to law enforcement officers so they can access potentially investigative data. The group argues that this would worsen data security for all users.

Barr classified the attack, in which three US soldiers were killed, as a terrorist attack, increasing the pressure on Apple. "It is very important to know who and what the shooter communicated with before he died," said the minister.

Apple replied that "a wide range of information" had been provided within hours of the first FBI request on December 6. In the days that followed, Apple delivered, among other things, backups stored in the iCloud storage service and communication data to several accounts. While access to an encrypted iPhone is only possible with a passcode, the key for iPhone backups stored in the cloud is also stored there. This enables them to be decrypted for the authorities. Particularly sensitive information such as health data, passwords or payment data is also encrypted end-to-end in the cloud and is therefore only accessible to users.

Apple emphasized that it was not until a month later, on January 6, that the FBI informed them of the existence of a second iPhone. The assassin had shot into one of the devices.

"We have always emphasized that there can be no back door only for the good guys," said Apple. “Back doors can also be abused by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.” Investigators also have access to more data than ever before.

Apple preferred to be sued by the FBI after a 2015 attack rather than writing software to unlock iPhones. At the time, the investigators said they came in with the help of an external service provider and dropped the complaint.

Source: zeit

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