Apple Files Motion Against Being Forced To Create “GovtOS”
Apple has filed a motion to what it hopes will prevent it from having to give the FBI access to an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters. The motion filed claims that the court order to allow the FBI access to the aforementioned iPhone breaches the company’s constitutional First Amendment right to free speech.
In a press call, Apple executive called the version of iOS the FBI is requesting Apple to make as “GovtOS”, a name which seems to be catching on already. The FBI wants Apple to create a bespoke version of iOS that would allow all kinds of security bypasses that, it believes, would allow the FBI to gain access to the iPhone used by the shooter.
Apple, however, is point blank refusing to make “GovtOS.”
Apple’s motion uses some pretty strong words and claims that if it were to create a backdoor in the iPhone, it would create a precedent for future cases.
“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”
On that subject, Apple says that even if it was to go ahead with creating “GovtOS”, it would take around 4 weeks to do and take half a dozen engineers in order to make possible. Apple would also need to build a forensic lab at its Cupertino campus – something it is not willing to do.
FBI director James Comey, speaking at a congressional hearing on Thursday, admitted that if Apple is indeed forced to comply with the court order, it will set a precedent that could see more iPhones unlocked in the future. Comey said that if the courts did rule in the FBI’s favor, it “will be instructive for other courts” and “guide how other courts handle similar requests.” So much for this all being about just one iPhone, then.
That precedent might not only apply to granting access to iPhones that have been seized, either. The motion claims that future FBI requests could be to turn an iPhone’s camera on for surveillance or activate the microphone in order to eavesdrop on conversations. If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.
This is clearly a situation that won’t be easy to unravel, and with Apple CEO Tim Cook apparently set to meet with President Obama to discuss the case, it’s certainly one that has everyone’s attention. In a recent interview with ABC, Cook labeled the so-called “GovtOS” the “software equivalent of cancer.” In other news, Apple is said to be working on an unhackable iPhone that it even it can’t crack.
The full official 65-page court document filed by Apple today can be read below.