Apple is appealing a federal court decision ordering them to crack the passcode of a terrorist’s iPhone to allow the FBI to access the data on the handset, despite unlocking dozens of other phones in recent years.
The company has written an open letter to its customers assuring them that their private data is safe, yet law enforcement authorities complain that the same software is being used by criminals.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has criticised the decision to compel the company to access the data on Syed Farook’s phone, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a December attack in San Bernardino, California.
According to the Daily Beast, Apple has complied with 70 similar requests for assistance accessing iPhones since 2008, figures which the company does not dispute.
However, the previous instances involved cases which were far less serious than terrorism.
One case involved a meth dealer who had information on his iPhone that investigators wanted to access.
In a briefing for the court Apple said: ‘For these devices, Apple has the technical ability to extract certain categories of unencrypted data from a passcode locked iOS device’.
Apple said that it did not want to do so because ‘forcing Apple to extract data…absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand’.
It said: ‘This reputational harm could have a longer term economic impact beyond the mere cost of performing the single extraction at issue’.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump attacked Apple’s decision to challenge the court’s ruling regarding the San Bernardino killers.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found 82 percent of U.S. adults deemed government surveillance of suspected terrorists to be acceptable.
Only 40 percent of the Pew respondents said it’s acceptable for the government to monitor U.S. citizens, however.
The survey also found nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults consider it ‘very important’ to be in control over who can retrieve personal information about them.
Farook’s iPhone 5C is protected by a four-digit code, which if is entered incorrectly ten times, will prompt the handset to delete all of the data.
Read more: Daily Mail