EFF in the News
UPDATE at 6:26 p.m., Monday, March 21, 2016: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has supported Apple's fight, argued that this was always about more than just one particular iPhone.
"The FBI explained that an outside party had demonstrated a way that might get into the locked phone, which would mean that the FBI would have to drop its request for Apple to create the backdoor," said EFF general counsel Kurt Opsahl. "This is good news, because a legal precedent requiring companies to write backdoors is incredibly dangerous to the security of millions of iPhone users.
"This case was always about more than access to a single phone," he said. "It was an attempt to set a legal precedent that requires any company to undermine their users’ security at the FBI’s request. Security is vital to protect the information on your phone, and the FBI should work to enhance user security, not against it."
“The people who develop our technologies,” said Cindy Cohn, director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which tracks digital rights, “are having a bigger and bigger role in all these things."
Gmail provides secure connections between a client and its servers, but data sent over the connection is plain text, noted Peter Eckersley, technology projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"If Google receives an order from the FBI, they're going to have to disclose the text," he told TechNewsWorld.
Apple encrypts emails end to end, and it also encrypts messages sent through iMessage. However, iMessage backups go to Apple, which has access to the key, Eckersley said, "so if you backup to the iCloud, Apple can retrieve the data."
“I think most site operators now understand that encryption is becoming the standard rather than an optional extra,” said Danny O'Brien, international director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has strongly advocated HTTPS. “I think it always helps to make the business case, to be able to pull down some hard data to show those making the business decision. That's what this Transparency Report is most useful for — showing that everybody else is doing it, and showing how bad it makes any website look to be in the diminishing number that aren't using HTTPS.”
O'Brien also asserted that the most significant aspect of Google's HTTPS report card is that it highlighted the “next big step in securing the Net, the ‘dark matter' of unencrypted content online, email traffic… Google has a great way of seeing the general state of this email ecosystem through Gmail. Now we can track what's happened so far, and how we're improving.”
Cohn is Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The FBI should not force Apple to violate its beliefs
It would never be OK for a judge to require you to sign a petition or a letter disavowing your views. Whether you believe that the country would be better off if everyone had a gun, or if guns were banned, no warrant could require you to sign a letter to the contrary. The First Amendment simply doesn’t allow the government to force you to become a hypocrite, or to substitute the views of a judge, a prosecutor or others in the place of your own. But that’s what the FBI is trying to make Apple do.
“This reply brief demolishes the government’s opposition (from last week),” said attorney Nate Cardozo of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a friend of the court brief earlier this month in support of Apple along with dozens of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies. Cardozo said Tuesday’s response from Apple “systematically takes down almost every one of the government’s arguments.”
Privacy advocates also worry about possible abuse because of the manufacturers’ policy of maintaining all data collected by the cameras unless directed otherwise.
“The longer they keep the data and the more data points you have, the more you can learn about a person’s behavior — where someone goes to church, what doctors they have or where they slept at night,” said Dave Maass, an investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog group. “Maybe we can predict where somebody is going to be, and we can tell you who their associates are. It can be very invasive over time.”
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “Everyone gets at a really visceral level that you have a lot of really personal stuff on this device and if it gets stolen it’s really bad. They know that the same forces that work at trying to get access to sensitive stuff in the cloud are also at work attacking the phones.”
Law enforcement and intelligence officials will get six of the 16 seats on the commission, giving them out-sized power in making recommendations to Congress, said Mark Jaycox, who handles civil liberties issues for EFF. Only two of the panel's members would come from privacy groups.
"We know, definitely, where they (law enforcement) all are — they want to weaken encryption," Jaycox said. "And that's going to make your information — your health records, your credit card numbers, your identity — less secure and more vulnerable to criminals."