PoliceOne.com, which describes itself as “the #1 resource for law enforcement online,” has sided with Apple — instead of the FBI — in the ongoing encryption debate over the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
PoliceOne Editor-in-Chief Paul Wyllie penned an op-ed on Thursday, titled, “Rapid Response: Why Apple shouldn’t give in to the FBI.,”
The article explains “the FBI wants Apple to disable the auto-erase function in the operating system (which erases the device completely if too many incorrect passwords are attempted) and remove the time delay between the input of password attempts (which would ostensibly speed up the brute-force method of attempting to unlock the phone).”
Beyond simply removing an obstacle, as Wyllie cites TechCrunch, the FBI wants Apple to insert “a vulnerability to its software and devices,” about which Apple CEO Tim Cook warned, in “the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”
As the PoliceOne article explained, despite media’s attempts to conflate Apple’s refusal with the protection of terrorists, the actuality would put millions of people’s privacy and security at risk. Not to mention risking the trust that those millions place in devices running Apple iOS — thereby putting the company’s standing in peril.
“The company’s market position could be jeopardized by taking away one of the elements to its product that is most appealing to consumers (privacy and encryption) and thereby put the shareholders in financial jeopardy,” noted Wyllie.
Kurt Opsahl, Deputy Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whom Wyllie also cites, explained that the FBI is requesting Apple “create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.”
PoliceOne offers three options which the FBI should consider that would better protect the public’s — and Apple’s — best interests:
- “Vigorously pursue all of the other avenues of investigation.”
- “Work to develop better decryption capabilities for future investigations.”
- “Withdraw its petition to the court to force a private company to damage its products.”
Wyllie appears to have lucidly and thoughtfully considered PoliceOne’s position on the matter, as surprising as it may be from such a reputable law enforcement-focused site. Opting to stand with the public perhaps seems incongruous with the current tension between police and civilians around the country — though no less welcome.
Whether this commentary by PoliceOne will ultimately persuade the FBI to reconsider its attempts to thwart Apple’s stalwart stance on encryption is highly doubtful.
But what the editorial might indicate is a potential glimmer of hope that relations between police and the people aren’t tarnished beyond repair.