Not really up to you to decide matey

One US Federal Bureau of Investigation official who has become so frustrated with Apple’s iPhone security, he has described its products as the work of an “evil genius”.

The technology giant, which has sold billions of products, has made it increasingly difficult to break into iPhones, claiming it keeps customers safer from hackers. But government officials say these measures are getting in the way of justice by blocking potential evidence from suspected criminals.

“At what point is it just trying to one-up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?” said FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley during the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan this week.

Describing Apple as “jerks”, Mr Flatley revealed that Apple recently made its iPhones even harder to access. It has recently added a trick that makes password cracking software much slower, making it more difficult for law enforcement to break into phones, he said.

Partly because if the people want secure phones then the people should have secure phones. And partly because (Har, Har, sarcasm alert!) not every law enforcement organisation in the world is as unpolitical and protective of civil rights as the FBI.

20 comments on “Not really up to you to decide matey

  1. Poor dental hygiene, resulting from poor parenting. Dental caries is less to do with what you eat and more to do with how well you clean your teeth afterwards.

  2. Interestingly, having just worked on the specifications for a bunch of smart-devices that the government will be leasing or buying, the security requirements we put in would really annoy Mr Flatley.

  3. This is once again the obvious rule – you can have Vibrants or you can have civil liberties. But not both. If it wasn’t for terrorism, no one could care and Apple could do what it liked. Or at least if the government did care, no one would listen to them and Apple could do what it liked.

    But we have a large Muslim community with significant sections of them trying to kill us all. So encryption has to go.

    I expect Apple will be forced to stop soon enough. The right to privacy only applies to things the Left likes, like abortion.

  4. They will be putting a lot of pressure on Apple. In this way it might well be within their power to “decide”

  5. Beats me. Do they really think terrorists are so unsophisticated, they put compromising data on devices likely to be associated with them? In a form likely to be of use to spooks if they did crack the encryption?
    I know, if I was intending on perpetrating some skullduggery, I’d be using cheap fones & regularly chucking them in the incinerator. Not $1000 iPhones.
    But ragheads, I s’pose. Not the brightest bunch going. So possibly.

  6. If your target has hardware than you are unable to compromise, how sensible is it to whine about it in public? Mr Flatley should have stuck to dancing.

  7. It has turned out that all the leftie fruitcakes who argued that the FBI was thoroughly criminal and corrupt were right all along. Or were at worst rather premature. Their motives may have been malign but they got the essence right. Hell, maybe the spittle-flecked Hitler was right when he described the US as a land of gangsters.

    But the FBI is not the only corrupt, violent arm of the federal government – consider the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Maybe the FBI could plead that it fell into bad company.

    And when the FBI might have been really useful, prior to 9/11, it proved woefully incompetent.

  8. “If your target has hardware than you are unable to compromise, how sensible is it to whine about it in public? ‘”

    Could be a bluff. They can, so they whine that they can’t.

  9. ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects’

    Now, just a suggestion.

    Ultimate fascist control. Government demanding products be modified to assist the government in marginal activities.

    They can’t tell how an Apple phone was used. They can’t tell how a gun was used, either. They can now demand guns be made with integral Go-Pro. And integral data storage in cars.

    “You must enable us to spy on you.”

    I’m not an Apple fan, but I applaud them for taking a stand against government intrusion. The U.S. government has far exceeded its boundaries as stated in the 4th Amendment.

  10. BiS: plenty of stuff on ‘t Interwebs to train ragheads on OpSec. A colleague of mine used to use a pic of Osama bin Laden in lectures as an illustration of someone who had very good operational security. It kept him alive for many years in the face of very serious and sustained attempts to kill him.

  11. “Partly,” also, because of the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from “unreasonable search and seizure”; the fact that one has a cellphone not being a “reason” to sift through it. Never mind that the House of Representatives has just voted to extend the absolution on this Amendment for another six years. (Otherwise the Terrorists Win.)

  12. This attitude of law enforcement that business and society exist to serve their requirements is more than a little troubling.

  13. “They may be able to stop apple using encryption. They won’t stop individuals using encryption.”

    They can pass a law making it illegal to use encryption.

    More likely, something like that the govt issues ssh keys, and you may not use any others, indeed that you are legally obliged to use your govt issue key for all data (so that the govt can track you).

    So visiting http://www.timworstall.com can only be done using the browser in secure mode ( https ), using the govt issue ssh key.

    They can just pass laws.
    And they will.

  14. Johnny bonk – they can indeed pass a law making it illegal to use encryption. Rather like they make laws about not driving while drunk, not driving while talking on the mobile phone, not driving without a license – and hey people do still do that.
    Because a law is only worthwhile when people follow it. And hard to force people to follow a law.

  15. Martin, yes it can and will be flouted, but govts will love it and will get better and better at applying it. govt interference
    with our online activities is a one way journey, it will get ever more difficult to avoid the govt.

  16. More likely, something like that the govt issues ssh keys, and you may not use any others, indeed that you are legally obliged to use your govt issue key for all data (so that the govt can track you).

    So visiting http://www.timworstall.com can only be done using the browser in secure mode ( https ), using the govt issue ssh key.

    Yes, any law will probably have that level of understanding of the technology involved.

    (ssh and TLS are different, although the protocols can pick from a similar list of crypto algorithms)

  17. Johnny bonk / Martin

    Johnny bonk – they can indeed pass a law making it illegal to use encryption.

    As others on here have commented many times, not in any meaningful way, if one actually means “encryption” (and apologies for the generic link, but there is masses on this stuff):

    http://www.revk.uk/search?q=encryption

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