EFF in the News
The outspoken programmer stressed the importance of computer security today, citing the millions of accounts that have been exposed.
Wozniak is a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group that has already taken Apple's side in the case and voiced its opinion on the importance of encrypting devices.
"Compelling Apple to build a backdoor for its own product actually undermines the security and personal safety of millions of Americans and others around the world, especially those living under authoritarian regimes," said Sophia Cope, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It does so "by creating the legal precedent, by weakening the trust users have in software updates supposedly authorized by companies, and by building the technology itself," she told TechNewsWorld.
"Tim Cook is the most influential tech executive in the post-Snowden firmament," says Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Through personal beliefs, news events and the importance of privacy to Apple's business, he is the industry's chief advocate."
Jeremy Gillula, staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the move is puzzling since Amazon uses a modified version of Android's operating system for its Fire OS, so encryption was likely built into the Android system.
"It's concerning from a security point of view," he said. "If you lose your tablet or your tablet is stolen, any data that's stored is readable."
And ultimately, until all parties are on the same page when it comes to the ails of data in the digital age, Lee Tien, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that progress around the issues will remain.
“I don’t see any solution anytime soon other than for all sides to appreciate that there are real issues and problems,” he said. “There are a lot of folks who don’t want to acknowledge that there is a privacy issue in the first place.”
FRIENDS OF APPLE — Access Now and the ACLU on Wednesday filed amicus briefs siding with Apple in its court fight over a Justice Department demand that it help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Internet and Society, and a host of technology companies including Microsoft and Google — more on them below — have said they’ll be filing by today's deadline.
“We’re focusing on the First Amendment issues,” said Nate Cardozo, an EFF staff attorney. Computer code is considered speech under the Bill of Rights so any government order obliging Apple to write code has constitutional ramifications, he said.
Cardozo predicted that the amicus briefs will focus on constitutional issues more than Apple’s own court filings. Apple is fighting the government mainly on statutory grounds, challenging courts’ ability to compel it under the All Writs Act.
In a separate briefing the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and 46 technology industry experts, "including inventors of modern cryptography," told the court forcing Apple to open a backdoor into the FBI's iPhone evidence violates the company's free speech rights.
"The court order is akin to the government dictating a letter endorsing backdoors and forcing Apple to sign its forgery-proof name at the bottom,'' said EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene. "What the FBI asked the court to do violates free speech rights and puts the security and privacy of millions of people at risk. We are asking the court to throw out this dangerous and unconstitutional order."
"Removing device encryption due to lack of customer use is an incredibly poor excuse for weakening the security of those customers that did use the feature," said Jeremy Gillula, staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"Given that the information stored on a tablet can be just as sensitive as that stored on a phone or on a computer, Amazon should instead be pushing to make device encryption the default -- not removing it," Gillula said.
Techdirt is a key part of the digital revolution. They cover our work at EFF, of course, but more importantly, their original reporting and in-depth research help us nail down facts across our issues, and their analysis is strong. The clear way in which Techdirt's reporters lay out both technical and non-technical aspects of their stories provides an example for everyone looking to speak to many audiences at once.
Nate Cardozo, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, finds this hard to believe.
“The best hackers in the world are employed over at Fort Meade,” where the NSA is located, says Cardozo. “They’re not at Quantico,” the FBI’s home base. “The phone is at Quantico. That, I think, speaks volumes about what’s going on here.”
Either the NSA doesn’t have the ability to open the phone or doesn’t want to risk exposing its methods in a very public case like the San Bernardino one. Or there’s another reason why the FBI might be claiming helplessness when it comes to the phone.
Cardozo and other experts say the fact the FBI has opted for a very public legal battle in the case when other methods for getting the data may be at its disposal suggests that the case is not about getting data but about setting a legal precedent. Specifically, a precedent that could compel Apple and other tech companies to create or alter their software to make it less secure.
“This case was selected very carefully by the FBI in order to develop precedent going forward,” Cardozo says. “They want to be able to order American tech companies to include (or remove) specific features in order to enable surveillance. They’ve never before claimed such a power.”