WHISTLEBLOWER Edward Snowden has described the FBI's claim that only Apple can unlock an iPhone to investigate the communications of the San Bernardino shooters as "bullshit".
Snowden joins a growing number of commentators questioning the FBI's true intentions behind the demands on Apple, which have been rebuffed by CEO Tim Cook who argues that the agency is in effect demanding that his firm makes obsolete security technology it has spent considerable time and effort creating.
Snowden was speaking by video feed at pro-democracy organisation Common Cause's Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference in Washington DC yesterday. He stated that "we have to use the technical community to enforce our rights" instead of allowing the government to force co-operation that may be unethical or undemocratic.
"We do have some evidence today of methods that do work. The Apple versus the FBI case is a good example of this," said Snowden, adding that "the FBI would not be as pissed off as they are" if Apple wasn't setting an important precedent by flatly refusing to co-operate.
Snowden, like others, disputes assertions that the FBI's demands on Apple are about simply getting to the bottom of one case.
"The FBI has said in court that Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means' - these are their words - the ‘exclusive technical means' [to access the device]," said Snowden. "Respectfully, that's bullshit."
Snowden explained that there have been similar attacks since the 1990s that the FBI has investigated without calling for any specific assistance from technology vendors.
David Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden, and a former shadow home secretary, agreed with Snowden in a recent conversation with The INQUIRER, stating that the FBI's argument for forcing Apple to develop a security bypassing tool seems unfounded.
"The truth is that terrorist encryption is often in the form of agreed phrases. The Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland, when the signal was given back by the bombers that the thing was placed, [the perpetrator] said: ‘The brick is in the wall.' He didn't say: ‘I've placed the bomb,'" Davis said.
"It's rather obviously a code phrase, but you might use a more mundane code phrase. So even if you did away with encryption, all you'd do is make them move on to something more sophisticated.
"So, generally speaking, I'm on Apple's side in this argument. It sounds hard, but the truth is what are they going to learn from these two [perpetrators]? They will already know who they talk to. They get that through metadata. They wouldn't need the phone for that."
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score