Lawyers, security experts, and the husband of a shooting victim
Thirty-two law professors have unsurprisingly delved into the specifics of the U.S. magistrates order that compels Apple to create a backdoor for the FBI to access San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone. Here are a few highlights:
“Compelling a private company to create technology with features that the firm deliberately chose to exclude is an unprecedented expansion of judicial power that Congress did not support by passing the All Writs Act,” the document states.
The professors argue that the court lacks the jurisdiction to issue and enforce the order, and that the All Writs Act was intended to be more limited than the government now suggests, among other points. Their dismissal of the use of the All Writs Act can best be seen with the following statement.
“No court has ever issued a valid order that imposes an equivalent burden on a non-party. Our research has not found any case that uses the All Writs Act to require a third-party private entity to design and create new software.”
The experts who filed this brief are Dino Dai Zovi, an expert in iOS security; Dan Boneh, a professor of computer science at Stanford; Charlie Miller, a security researcher; Dr. Hovav Shacham, a professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego; Bruce Schneier, a security technologist; Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University; and Jonathan Zdziarski, an independent forensics researcher.
The last person, Zdziarski, told Bloomberg Business that the FBI doesn’t need Apple to break into the iPhone. He mentions a kiosk in Shenzhen that uses a computer, tweezers, and screwdrivers to copy the “contents of the iPhone” to a chip with more capacity, and then swaps it. He says the FBI could follow a similar strategy.
The brief also delves into the issue of the custom code that Apple would be forced to create. The experts fear it could fall into the wrong hands or simply be kept by Apple.
“Apple is not likely to delete the Custom Code,” the brief states. “It is expensive and difficult to build the Custom Code, but once built, it is trivial for Apple to change it to work on any other iPhone.”
Salihin Kondoker’s wife was a victim in the San Bernardino shooting. Thankfully, his wife survived after getting shot three times on her way back from the restroom during the holiday party.
“It weighs heavily upon me and my family that many of her coworkers did not,” he says in his letter to Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who issued the order.
He goes further by saying that initially he was frustrated that Apple was opposing the order, when he was desperate to find out more information on how the shooting happened.
“But as I read more about their case, I have come to understand their fight is for something much bigger than one phone,” Kondoker writes. “They are worried that this software the government wants them to use will be used against millions of other innocent people. I share their fear. I support Apple and the decision they have made.”