Eddy Cue Fears Surveillance State if FBI Wins iPhone Unlock Case

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eddy_cue_headshotApple VP Eddy Cue says the U.S. government could force Apple to secretly implement surveillance technology in its devices if the FBI's current demands in the ongoing iPhone encryption dispute are met.

The company's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services made the ominous prediction during an interview yesterday with U.S.-based Spanish-language TV network Univision, a transcript of which was provided by Apple to Business Insider.

In the extensive interview, the Apple executive reiterated a number of arguments offered by the company over the last weeks, but Cue put special emphasis on the risk of facing a slippery slope that could invite more insidious demands should the FBI get its way and be provided a backdoor to iPhone users' data.

"When they can get us to create a new system to do new things, where will it stop?" Cue asked. "For example, one day the FBI may want us to open your phone's camera, microphone. Those are things we can't do now. But if they can force us to do that, I think that's very bad. That should not happen in this country."

The Apple VP offered a fresh analogy to explain the company's issue with the FBI's demand, likening it to giving someone a key to the back door of your home.

What they want is to give them a key to the back door of your house, and we don't have the key. Since we don't have the key, they want us to change the lock. When we change the latchkey, it changes for everyone. And we have a key that opens all phones. And that key, once it exists, exists not only for us. Terrorists, criminals, pirates, all too will find that key to open all phones.

Cue also accused the FBI of being out of step with other government agencies, stating that the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who is responsible for the NSA, "wants encryption to continue getting more and more secure, because he knows that if we create some way to get in, criminals and terrorists will get in. They don't want that."

Cue explained that Apple engineers are continually working to make its devices more secure, and that people should not view the current case as Apple versus the government, but rather an example of Apple's attempts to keep the public safe from criminals and other dangerous actors.

It's Apple engineers against terrorists, against criminals. They are the people we are trying to protect people from. We are not protecting the government. We want to help. They have a very difficult job, they are there to protect us. So we want to help as much as possible, but we can not help them in a way that will help more criminals, terrorists, pirates.

He also underlined the U.S. government's recent poor record of keeping the public's information – and even that of its own employees – secure, arguing that "the only way we can protect ourselves is to make the phone more safe."

Cue is the second Apple executive this week to publicly comment on the case, following Craig Federighi's Monday op-ed in The Washington Post in which he criticized the FBI for wanting to turn back the clock to a less-secure time.

Apple has officially opposed an order that would require it to help the FBI break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook and will now face off against the government in court on March 22.

Eddy Cue's full interview can be read on the Univision website.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

decafjava Avatar
62 months ago

Does anyone have any spare facepalms?
I only have a million handy & it seems like underkill for this comment...

*one million facepalms*



There you are, just let it run for a enough time.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JM Avatar
62 months ago

You seem to be implying that this system with weakened security would be installed on every iPhone (or hard drive or file system) on the planet. That is NOT the case, but if it was I would agree with you wholeheartedly.

You may understand the tech, but you do not understand the law. The government is asking for a special OS to be developed and installed on specific phones, each of which have gone through the regular 4th amendment legal hurdles and protections of obtaining a warrant for inspection by a neutral judge. And that special OS would be maintained as proprietary by Apple, not the government. Nobody is asking Apple to weaken security on ALL iPhones. Apple can and should continue to develop strengthened encryption algorithms and protocols, but they also have to be able to comply with legal search warrants in order to assist the government in solving crimes. Developing a specialized OS that Apple maintains under their control and use only when the government has obtained a legal search warrant signed by a judge seems like a reasonable compromise.

No. You're forgetting the human element in this.

If a specialized iOS is made, even for one device, it has the chance of being stolen, sold by employee, whatever, from Apple.

Just because Apple has control of this "special" iOS, doesn't mean it won't ever leak through theft of disgruntled employee sale. it now exists and it has a chance of going into the wild, and that is what Apple and many tech companies want to avoid.

If I may: Nobel regrets inventing dynamite. But once it got out, it killed many. Point: once something bad is made, there's no going back.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tycho24 Avatar
62 months ago

We have to have the best of both worlds. We have to have the FBI getting their access for protection purposes, but also a way that keeps the devices secure for everybody.

Look... I get that if you don't come from a tech background that may sound sensical. However, I assure you- it is not. The way encryption works is that it can't be decrypted if you're not the owner. That's what makes it secure. What you (and the FBI) are suggesting is to weaken encryption by purposefully entering a flaw into the system. That is not "meeting in the middle". It's destroying a method of securing data through a purposeful vulnerability.... and a slippery slope. Would Seagate be told next that they can't build hard drives with built in encryption features? Would Microsoft be told that they can't have software options to encrypt drives or protected OS files??
It simply put, is NOT as simple as we all wish it were.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pakaku Avatar
62 months ago
I mean, I was pretty sure the US has been a surveillance state for a loooong time.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cdmoore74 Avatar
62 months ago
I thought we already live in a surveillance state. Cameras are almost everywhere bringing fresh material to liveleaks on a daily basis. If you go shopping at the grocery store you're on tape doing something. I'm so paranoid I don't even use Facebook or any other social app because I know people are watching. We can all try to hide our identity online but leave the house you have no choice but to be under surveillance.
You can lock down the phones all day long but if you're not a terrorist secretly covering your tracks your privacy has been gone a long time ago.
It's funny, we let people know what we're doing on Facebook yet we want our phones to be hack proof. I had one relative telling people on Facebook that she was on vacation. Next thing you know she had gotten her house broken into.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gudi Avatar
62 months ago


Eddy Cue Fears Surveillance State [S]if FBI Wins iPhone Unlock Case[/S]

Fixed that for you.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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