Lavabit, the secure email company that shut down in 2013 rather than hand over its encryption key to the U.S. government, has joined the growing list of companies filing amicus briefs on Apple’s behalf as it battles the FBI in court, TechCrunch reports. In the brief, Lavabit details the “extraordinary assistance” the FBI demanded three years ago, after public disclosures by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden led authorities to the company’s email service. “In the same vein, the government now seeks extraordinary assistance from Apple,” Lavabit wrote, arguing that “the government’s extraordinary request eviscerates the purpose of the All Writs Act, and unnecessarily compromises the proprietary intellectual property of a private company that has not been implicated, in any way, with the crime under investigation.”
The Supreme Court has refused to hear Apple’s appeal in its e-book price fixing case, Bloomberg reports. That final ruling ends a years-long battle over whether the company conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices, and leaves Apple on the hook for the previously determined $450 million settlement to resolve U.S. state and consumer claims from the case. Last month the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the $450 million judgment against a separate challenge from a purchaser who questioned the fairness of the settlement.
The European Union’s competition chief told reporters “don’t hold your breath” waiting for an end to the inquiry over whether the tax breaks Apple enjoys in Ireland are legal, Bloomberg reports. Last November, Ireland’s finance minister Michael Noonan said he expected the case to be resolved by Christmas, but EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said, “No, we wait for the job being done thoroughly and with the quality that we want it to be done with. That is what decides the timeline.”
The National Assembly of France has voted in favor of a bill that would penalize smartphone makers such as Apple who refuse to cooperate with terrorism inquiries, The Guardian reports. The move, which goes against the wishes of the French government, took the form of an amendment to a penal reform bill related to the end of the state of emergency which has been in place in France since last fall’s Paris terrorist attacks. The state of emergency is expected to be lifted in May. The amendment stipulates a private company that refuses to hand over encrypted data to any investigating authority could face a €350,000 fine ($385,000), and up five years in jail for those deemed liable. The French government has shown a reluctance to take on large phone companies in this manner, leading the report to speculate whether the amendment will actually make it through the remaining and lengthy parliamentary process, which would include a vote and possible amendment by the French Senate, possible constitutional review, and additional commissions.
Apple does not plan on bidding for the digital streaming rights to the NFL Thursday Night Football package, Re/code reports. The NFL sent out a requests for proposal (RFP) to several major digital media players back in December, offering non-exclusive rights to stream the entire Thursday Night Football package online. While earlier reports suggested Apple was planning to put in a bid, it now appears that Apple has decided to bow out of the bidding process on the basis that the sports package would not be enough to set the Apple TV or any future streaming media service apart from the competition. Other companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Verizon, and Yahoo, are reportedly still interested and will likely submit bids. No information or even speculation is available on what the digital rights package will sell for, however the report notes that NBC and CBS each paid $225 million to air the Thursday Night games on their television networks, a deal that also gives them the rights to stream those games on their own online platforms.
Welcome to… pic.twitter.com/EZA8eRycDs— Apple Support (@AppleSupport) March 3, 2016
Today Apple has launched an official Apple Support Twitter account, @AppleSupport. The bio for the new account reads, “We’re here to provide tips, tricks and helpful information when you need it most, and if you have a question, well — we’re here to help with that too.” So far the account is living up to those claims, having tweeted almost 50 times since first tweeting about an hour ago. Most of the tweets are responses to customer questions, with a tip thrown in, as well. If you happen to be interested in tips and tricks for iOS and Apple TV, check out our iLounge Tips archive, which goes back to 2011.
Nearly a year after meeting with Tim Cook over “Apple’s intervention in the car,” Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the tech giant should collaborate with carmakers instead of trying to build a car on its own, Reuters reports. Speaking to reporters at an auto show, Marchionne said it makes more sense for Apple to use the expertise already available in his industry rather than enter into such a “complex business” on its own. “If they have any urges to make a car, I’d advise them to lie down and wait until the feeling passes,” Marchionne said. “Illnesses like this come and go. You will recover from them. They’re not lethal.”
In response to Apple’s reluctance to aid U.S. authorities in cracking iPhone encryption, one French politician is proposing a 1 million euro fine for every iPhone Apple refuses to unlock in France, Le Parisien reports. French Socialist MP Yann Galut noted eight instances where phones tied to terrorist attacks have been inaccessible to police, suggesting that stiff fines might compel companies like Apple and Google to cooperate with authorities. “Only money will force these extremely powerful companies like Apple and Google to comply,” he said.
When pressed during testimony before Congress, FBI Director James Comey was forced to admit that his agency would use the precedent from a win in the San Bernardino iPhone case to compel Apple to unlock more phones (via Apple Insider). After weeks spent trying to reassure the public that the government’s request for Apple to break into a terrorist’s iPhone would result in one-time access used only in this particular instance, Comey told members of the House Judiciary Committee, “If the All Writs Act is available to us, and relief under the All Writs Act fits the powers of the statute, of course” his agency would apply the precedent to other cases involving iPhones. The admission underscored Apple’s emphasis on the far-reaching nature of the case, given that sources have said the Department of Justice already has at least a dozen iPhones it wants unlocked. In a ruling handed down Monday, a federal judge sided with Apple in a similar case, arguing that the government doesn’t have the legal authority to use the All Writs Act to gain access to encrypted iPhones.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee may file a “friend of the court” brief asking that Congress be allowed to decide Apple’s encryption dispute with the U.S. government, Reuters reports. Five sources confirmed the possibility, although they were quick to caution that no final agreement had been reached. The move would be an unusual intervention by Congress in a legal proceeding and needs to be filed by Thursday’s court deadline for consideration. Sources said the filing would argue that the Feb. 16 federal court order for Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c threatens the constitutional separation of powers, but the committee won’t file anything until today’s congressional testimony from Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell and FBI Director James Comey is concluded. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and several other large technology firms are expected to file briefs on Apple’s behalf.
A federal judge has ruled the government cannot use the All Writs Act to force Apple to unlock an iPhone, a judgement that could have far-reaching implications in Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the FBI, Reuters reports. While all eyes are on Apple’s public debate with the FBI over whether or not the company should unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists, a similar case has been working its way through appeals courts. Last October the Department of Justice dismissed Apple’s argument against helping the government break into the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer, saying the company’s operating system is “licensed, not sold” to users. But U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein disagreed with the DOJ’s assessment, stating that he does not have the legal authority to order Apple to disable the phone’s security measures.
The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to match the 12.9-inch model in functionality, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard, but 9to5Mac reports the smaller device could sport improved cameras as well. Sources said internal prototypes of the 9.7-inch model appear to include a 12 megapixel rear camera — a big upgrade over the 8 megapixel camera that shipped with the first iPad Pro last November. The improved camera would make sense given the new iPad’s smaller size. As we noted in our review, beefing up the camera on a 12.9-inch device wouldn’t really make much sense given how difficult it is to use it for photography. The new iPad is also expected to include a FaceTime HD camera above the front display and be able to record 4K video like the iPhone 6s, both upgrades over the first iPad Pro.
Apple vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell will testify before Congress tomorrow about the company’s stance on helping the FBI create a back door to access an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino terrorists. Sewell’s prepared remarks were released ahead of tomorrow’s testimony, and while they simply reiterate Apple’s stated position that creating a means to break iPhone encryption is dangerous, this will mark the first time the issue has been aired in testimony before Congress. Apple has stated that it wants Congress rather than the courts to decide the issue. FBI Director James Comey, New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Susan Landau are also scheduled to speak to Congress tomorrow on the legal questions surrounding the FBI’s request. [via Vice’s Motherboard]
A recent court filing by Lisa Olle, manager of Apple’s Global Privacy & Law Enforcement Compliance Team, details Apple’s efforts to aid authorities investigating the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Apple Insider reports. The document shows that Apple provided same-day turnarounds on no fewer than three FBI requests, delivering all the information it had on file related to several names and user accounts as early as Dec. 5, three days after the attacks. Olle appears to be part of the team responsible for providing the FBI with alternatives to extracting all available data about the attackers and claims the company made every effort to cooperate. “Throughout the investigation, I and other Apple representatives, including a senior engineer, continually made ourselves available to the government, on a 24/7 basis, participating in teleconferences, providing technical assistance, answering questions from the FBI, and suggesting potential alternatives for the government to attempt to obtain data from the Subject Device,” Olle stated in the declaration.
Leaked photos said to show the inner workings of Apple’s new ‘iPhone SE’ seem to confirm earlier rumors that the new phone will lack 3D Touch capabilities, French website NowhereElse reports. The images, obtained from an anonymous source, show that the metal plate over the internal components of the new phone lacks spaces for both the haptic engine and screen connections associated with 3D Touch. As previously reported, the new phone is expected to feature some features of the iPhone 6 family in a shell more akin to the iPhone 5s.
A U.S. appeals court has overturned a $120 million jury award granted to Apple from a May 2014 patent trial, Reuters reports. The earlier ruling from almost two years ago had ordered Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million in damages for using Apple’s patented technology without permission, including Apple’s “quick links” and “slide to unlock” features. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., however, ruled this week that Samsung did not actually infringe on Apple’s “quick links” patent, and that the two other patents that covered the slide-to-unlock and auto-correct features were in fact invalid. The court did note, however, that Apple was liable for infringing one of Samsung’s patents, presumably the patent for video and photo organization included in the same 2014 case, for which Apple was ordered to pay Samsung $158,400 in damages.
Following a report in January that indicated Apple’s new iPhone with a 4” display would be dubbed the “iPhone 5se,” 9to5Mac is now claiming that Apple may in fact simply designate the newer spiritual successor to the iPhone 5s as merely the “iPhone SE,” dropping the numeric designation altogether. Presumably, Apple would be highlighting the “Special Edition” meaning of the designation, and perhaps wants to avoid bringing the smaller, 4”-screened model into the same family as current iPhones, while minimizing the device’s roots — despite reports that it will look nearly the same as the iPhone 5s. The iPhone SE is still expected to retain the same design, features, and price points as previously reported; it’s unclear whether this latest information is a matter of Apple having not finalized the naming, or if the previous information was inaccurate.
Apple Pay is coming to France over the next few months, according to a new report from Les Echoes, but as with Apple’s recent efforts to roll out Apple Pay in other countries such as Australia and Canada, negotiations with the French banks are turning out to be a bit more challenging than expected, and the service may in fact roll out on a “bank-by-bank” basis. Apple is reportedly still in negotiations with “a small handful” of major French banks, with the sticking point being the usual matter of transaction fees. Traditionally, these transaction fees in France are relatively small compared to other countries, representing as little as 0.2 percent of the transaction amount, whereas Apple is demanding a higher cut for Apple Pay transactions, similar to what Apple has negotiated with the banks in the U.K. — possibly as much as 5 cents per transaction. The report notes that Apple’s position in the negotiations may have also been impacted due to its recent deal with Union Pay to launch Apple Pay in China, where the tech giant has reportedly made concessions, agreeing to take no per-transaction fees for the first two years and then only 0.07 percent after that. As a result, due to the difficulty in negotiations, Apple has reportedly abandoned any efforts to launch with multiple banks simultaneously, and will be engaging in discussions with individual banks who will implement Apple Pay at their own pace, and according to their own technical requirements. [via iPhon.fr]
As expected, Apple has filed its official motion to the courts, asking a judge to throw out the order requiring it to help the FBI hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, Re/code reports. In line with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s open letter from last week and his comments to ABC News, Apple is arguing that the case would set a “dangerous precedent” by forcing Apple to create a back door to defeat its own security and undermining the security and privacy of “hundreds of millions of users.” Apple is maintaining that the government has misapplied the 200-year-old All Writs Act in requiring Apple to specifically develop new software to defeat the iPhone’s security model.
New information suggests that Apple may in fact be planning to release the next-generation of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad with the name “iPad Pro” rather than using the “iPad Air” designation. A new report from 9to5Mac claims the new iPad will follow the same trend as Apple’s MacBook Pro series, whereby Apple will simply provide two “iPad Pro” models in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. The report also notes that precedent for this was also set with Apple’s naming convention for its 12-inch MacBook, basically dropping the “MacBook Air” designation from that particular model, despite it being an apparent successor in that lineup. The iPad Pro designation for the new 9.7-inch iPad model will presumably be based on Apple implementing similar features to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard. It’s unclear if the iPad Air name would disappear completely, or if it would be used for a similarly-sized iPad in the future which lacks those “Pro” features. The news suggests that the move is an effort by Apple to also simplify its iPad lineup, with sources indicating that Apple is slowing down production of older iPad mini and iPad Air models. Apple is expected to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad at an event on March 15.