On Monday, Apple responded to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint that it did not do enough to unlock the iPhone of the Pensacola shooter,media reported. The company condemned the “false allegations” made by DOJ. At a Justice Department news conference Monday, Attorney General William Barr said the FBI’s ability to unlock two phones linked to the shooting was “thanks to Apple.”
Barr also reiterated the Justice Department’s position that national security cannot remain in the hands of big companies.
Apple did assist in the investigation and provided the data stored on iCloud. But the Cupertino tech giant has refused to crack the encryption system — a position the company has in fact stuck to for years.
Just hours after the DOJ press conference, Apple provided further clarity and detail in a statement to AppleInsider’s website:
The terrorist attack on members of the U.S. Armed Forces at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, was devastating and heinous. Just hours after the december 6, 2019 attack, Apple responded to the FBI’s first request for information and continued to support law enforcement during the investigation. We provided all available information, including iCloud backups, account information for multiple accounts, and transaction data, and we continued to provide technical and investigative support to FBI offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola and New York for the months to come.
On this and thousands of other cases, we continue to work around the clock with the FBI and other investigators who keep Americans safe and bring criminals to justice. As a proud U.S. company, we believe it is our responsibility to support the important work of law enforcement. Yet false allegations against our company are an excuse to weaken encryption and other security measures that protect millions of users and our national security.
It is because we take our responsibility to national security so seriously that we don’t think we should build backdoors that make every device vulnerable to bad guys that threaten our national security and customer data security. There is no need to open a backdoor specifically for good people, nor does the American people have to choose between weakening encryption and effective investigation.
Customers are counting on Apple to keep their information safe, and one way we do this is to use powerful encryption on our devices and servers. The iPhones we sell everywhere are the same, we don’t store customers’ passwords, and we don’t have the ability to unlock password-protected devices. In the data center, we deploy strong hardware and software security to keep our information secure and to ensure that our systems don’t have a back door. All of these practices apply equally to our businesses around the world.
For years, Apple has been determined to protect its encryption protocols. In 2016, the company refused to comply with a court order by the FBI to set up a backdoor on its devices.
But the FBI eventually cracked the encryption code of the device used by the gunman. On Monday, local time, a new statement showed that the bureau had done it again without Apple’s help.