Apple’s encryption dilemma explained – does giving the FBI access matter?

After years circling the issue, a tech firm has decided to risk its neck in an all-out battle of wills with the most powerful policing organisation in the world, the FBI. At issue is the issue of how much assistance it should give to police trying to access data on the company’s devices. Many see what happened this week as a moment of truth that has been coming for years.

The FBI v Apple

At the centre of it all is a single encrypted iPhone that belonged to one of the two individuals, Syed Farook, who carried out the murderous San Bernardino attack on 2 December 2015. The FBI wants access to the data on the device (which belongs to Farook’s employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health). Apple doesn’t want to go as far as the FBI demands in making that possible and the Feds are now using an 18th Century law called the All Writs Act to force it to comply with what is, in effect, a search warrant by creating special ‘one-off’ software to bypass device security.

Earlier this week, a judge agreed with the FBI’s demand which Apple says it will now appeal.

Podcast: Apple vs FBI analysis