U.S. dismisses Apple’s iOS encryption arguments

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected Apple’s arguments against helping the government break into iPhones, saying the company’s operating system is “licensed, not sold” to users, The Daily Dot reports. In a case where police requested access to the iPhone of a suspect indicted for methamphetamine possession, the DOJ argued that Apple not only manufactured and sold the device — which is subject to a search warrant — but that the company also “wrote and owns the software that runs the phone, and this software is thwarting the execution of the warrant.”
Apple responded to the brief, saying that it’s still impossible for the company to extract encrypted data from an iOS device running iOS 8 or later since those iPhones encrypt local data in a way that Apple can’t reverse-engineer. But even though the defendant in question was running iOS 7 and Apple still has the capability of providing his communications to police, the company refused, arguing that doing so sets a precedent that would unduly burden the company’s resources in the future. The DOJ said Apple’s own reasoning proves that argument false, since the company claims that only 10 percent of its devices are running pre-iOS 8 software and “that number will continue to shrink as new devices are upgraded and replaced.” The government also dismissed Apple’s claims that breaking into an iPhone would hurt its reputation, saying the company had offered no evidence of an undue burden as defined by law.

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