Questions Remain After FBI Cracked Terrorist's Phone
It seems like the FBI will keep this secret to itself.
The FBI dropped its court case against Apple Monday after announcing it successfully hacked into the phone belonging to the San Bernardino jihadi. The case was set to become a showdown between the government arguing that it needs a backdoor into Apple’s products for national security and the company’s argument that its users need strong encryption and privacy. However, last week, the FBI said it was examining a method suggested to it by a third party, sidestepping entirely the question of whether the government can compel a tech company to destroy the security it built into its product. It’s a question that must be picked up by the entity that actually makes law in this country: Congress, not the executive branch, nor the courts.
According to the Washington Post, federal officials are supposed to let tech companies know when there’s a security vulnerability in a product, but according to Barack Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel, there’s wiggle room. “But there are legitimate pros and cons to the decision to disclose, and the trade-offs between prompt disclosure and withholding knowledge of some vulnerabilities for a limited time can have significant consequences,” Daniel wrote in 2014. “Disclosing a vulnerability can mean that we [forgo] an opportunity to collect crucial intelligence that could thwart a terrorist attack, stop the theft of our nation’s intellectual property, or even discover more dangerous vulnerabilities that are being used by hackers or other adversaries to exploit our networks.” Seeing how the FBI wanted to force Apple to ram a backdoor into its product when the bureau had other options for recovering the data, it seems like it will keep this secret to itself.