Apple Reportedly Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

More than two years ago, Apple informed the FBI that it planned to roll out end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, according to Reuters. Apple ultimately dropped the plan at some point after the FBI objected, although the report notes that it is unclear if the federal agency was a factor in the decision.


A former Apple employee told Reuters that the company did not want to risk scrutiny from public officials for potentially protecting criminals, being sued for making previously accessible data out of reach of government agencies, or the move encouraging new legislation against encryption.

"They decided they weren't going to poke the bear anymore," the person said, after Apple's legal battle with the FBI in 2016 over unlocking an iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino, California attack. In that case, the FBI ultimately found an alternative method of unlocking the iPhone.

Apple faces a similar standoff with the FBI over refusing to unlock two passcode-protected iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the suspect of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month. Apple said it has provided the FBI with all data in its possession.

Apple has taken a hard line on refusing to create a backdoor into iOS that would allow the FBI to unlock password-protected iPhones to assist in their investigations, but it does provide data backed up to iCloud to authorities when lawfully requested, as outlined in its semiannual Transparency Reports.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News 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.

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4 weeks ago


I can’t see Apple doing this, they have strong principles with privacy. I won’t believe it unless Apple sends a message to the public which will be a sad day for Apple if this is true


The article says they’ve already done it. I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

But the real people to blame I think is the FBI. Apple has done a decent job pushing back against them.

And it’s true that most people shouldn’t have to worry if their info gets handed over to law enforcement. Most people don’t have anything to hide, But I’m not worried about the FBI finding anything out about me. What I’m worried about is people taking My data and doing things with it they should not be doing. Identity theft anyone? And I’m not just concerned about the dark side of the law doing things with my data they shouldn’t be doing. I’m also worried about law enforcement agencies doing stuff with my data they shouldn’t be doing.

Apparently the FBI isn’t worried about that though. They could care less the safety of my data.
Rating: 25 Votes
4 weeks ago
Dear Apple Customer,
We, here at Apple, have decided to NOT encrypt iCloud backups. Due to the fact we can't trust you to use your iPhone in a lawful manner we have no choice but to allow ANY law enforcement agency to have access to YOUR backups whenever they say pretty please.
Have a nice day!
Tim
Rating: 24 Votes
4 weeks ago


In public Tim Cook touts Apple's dedication to user privacy and security. In private Apple leaves a backdoor to users' backups that allows them to share thousands of backups with law enforcement.

In public Tim Cook rails against firms like Google that harvest users' privacy by monetizing their information. In private Apple has a secret agreement with Google that pays them $9B/year to enable that very business model by making Google the default search engine on iPhones.

Seeing the pattern here?


the pattern I see is that forum posters often render opinions based on logical fallacies applied to incorrect facts and unwarranted assumptions.
Rating: 16 Votes
4 weeks ago


And it’s true that most people shouldn’t have to worry if their info gets handed over to law enforcement. Most people don’t have anything to hide, But I’m not worried about the FBI finding anything out about me.


I don't think anyone of sound mind would just be casually fine with all of their info being handed over to the FBI. What an absurd statement of complacency.
Rating: 15 Votes
4 weeks ago
This is just sad.
Rating: 15 Votes
4 weeks ago
So, criminals will just not use iCloud backup and be safe. Regular citizens will use it and be subject to government or system administrator overreach …

What happened to backdoors make it unsafe for everyone? Why wouldn't that apply to backups?
Rating: 15 Votes
4 weeks ago


Do I understand it correctly:
- Everything on your phone is impossible for Apple or anyone else to see, without knowing the password.
- Everything stored on iCloud is open if Apple gives permission.

If true it goes against a big part of what I thought Apple was all about - Privacy! One of the biggest selling points compared to their competitors.

More and more of your stuff is stored in the cloud instead of on your phone...

The article very clearly talks about iCloud backups, not generally any kind of data stored on iCloud. So, I think if you only do local encrypted backups, nobody can access your data without some sort of hacking (see this article ('https://daringfireball.net/linked/2020/01/20/how-modern-iphone-encryption-works') on how Greyshift does this and how to prevent it).
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My mail isn’t encrypted at all?

Email isn’t end-to-end encrypted unless you use S/MIME or PGP (and even then only the content and not the metadata are encrypted). There are messaging services that are fully end-to-end encrypted (like iMessage) but look like Email in a browser window and can interact (without end-to-end encryption) with standard email.
Rating: 14 Votes
4 weeks ago
Do I understand it correctly:
- Everything on your phone is impossible for Apple or anyone else to see, without knowing the password.
- Everything stored on iCloud is open if Apple gives permission.

If true it goes against a big part of what I thought Apple was all about - Privacy! One of the biggest selling points compared to their competitors.

More and more of your stuff is stored in the cloud instead of on your phone...
Rating: 13 Votes
4 weeks ago
In public Tim Cook touts Apple's dedication to user privacy and security. In private Apple leaves a backdoor to users' backups that allows them to share thousands of backups with law enforcement.

In public Tim Cook rails against firms like Google that harvest users' privacy by monetizing their information. In private Apple has a secret agreement with Google that pays them $9B/year to enable that very business model by making Google the default search engine on iPhones.

Seeing the pattern here?
Rating: 13 Votes
4 weeks ago
I don't use iCloud for backups mainly because the paltry 5GB they give you is insufficient for a backup anyway. Even the 50GB plan I have is not enough for a full backup.
Backing up to my computer is faster, and free, oh and encrypted.
Rating: 8 Votes

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