APPLE ENGINEERS might end up deciding the fate of the battle between the company and the FBI over decrypting iOS.
According to the New York Times, some engineers who worked on the encryption software introduced in iOS 9 have said that they would rather quit high paying jobs that compromise the encryption they created.
The FBI is pressing Apple to unlock the phone of one of the terrorists who committed a mass shooting in San Bernadino, CA last December. The argument against says that to do so would create not just an unlock for that phone, but a master key for all iOS devices, this setting a precedent.
On this week's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, one single police force was shown to have over 170 phones that needed decrypting and so repeating that county by county, state by state would open a massive floodgate.
In addition to the objection to the precedent, Apple has already argued that the free speech of its engineers, a fundament of the US constitution would be broken by making them create a decryption routine against their will and principles.
The briefing to the courts said, “Such conscription is fundamentally offensive to Apple’s core principles and would pose a severe threat to the autonomy of Apple and its engineers,”
In a letter to customers, Chief Executive Tim Cook said, “The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe,”
Apple has already said that it won't even assign workers to the task until it has exhausted all legal avenues but has hinted that it knows which employees they would need and the group in question would more than likely be of the calibre that could easily drop everything and move to another job elsewhere.
Knowing Apple's resilience to the principles involved, it would probably let them go. Many of Apple's rivals in Silicon Valley have already said publicly that they too support Apple's stance on the matter. Yes. Even Microsoft.
Meanwhile, maverick ex-NSA worker Edward Snowden has suggested that the inability to decrypt is 'bullshit' and a smokescreen to the fact that the government could do it in a heartbeat. µ
THE INQUIRER'S sister site Computing is running a web seminar next Tuesday, 22nd March at 3pm entitled "Anti-virus software has had its day - how can you protect against advanced threats?" Register now to reserve your place.
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