The news this week that a magistrate ordered Apple to help the FBI hack an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooter suspects has polarized the nation—and also generated some misinformation.
Those who support the government say Apple has cooperated in the past to unlock dozens of phones in other cases—so why can’t it help the FBI unlock this one?
But this isn’t about unlocking a phone; rather, it’s about ordering Apple to create a new software tool to eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data. Opponents of the court’s decision say this is no different than the controversial backdoor the FBI has been trying to force Apple and other companies to build into their software—except in this case, it’s an after-market backdoor to be used selectively on phones the government is investigating.
The stakes in the case are high because it draws a target on Apple and other companies embroiled in the ongoing encryption/backdoor debate that has been swirling in Silicon Valley and on Capitol Hill for the last two years. Briefly, the government wants a way to access data on gadgets, even when those devices use secure encryption to keep it private.
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