FBI hacks iPhone

The FBI has announced that it has hacked the iPhone of the San Bernadino attacker without Apple's help and will therefore not be taking further legal action against the company. For commentators the dispute between the technology giant and the intelligence agency is a test of endurance in the debate over freedom and security.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Don't sacrifice data protection in war on terror

The FBI hackers' success has put a temporary stop to the row between Apple and the US authorities. Nevertheless a landmark decision on how the authorities are to treat such data is still needed, the liberal business paper Handelsblatt believes:

“As long as they serve the interests of security, no one will have anything against the FBI's hacking operations. In this specific case, that is. For that reason what is now needed are rules on how to deal with cryptographic technology, as well as more transparency from the security and law enforcement authorities. ... If access to all encrypted devices is regulated by law, the lawmakers - in Europe as in the US - must carefully weigh up which demands by the authorities are legitimate and which are excessive. Data protection is a basic right that protects citizens from attacks on their private sphere by unauthorised persons. Under pressure from terror we are giving away this right far too frivolously.”

Der Standard (AT) /

FBI wants access to all iPhones

The FBI's true objective in putting pressure on Apple was to gain access to all iPhones, the centre-left daily Der Standard surmises:

“Apple CEO Tim Cook had warned that giving in could create a precedent that would allow investigators to access the iPhones of suspects whenever they wanted to. More than that: hackers and spies could then make use of just such a back door to hack into all iPhones. ... The FBI had argued that it couldn't bypass the iPhone security measures without Apple's help. Now, however, it turns out it can. Precisely how is not known - apparently with the help of a security firm. That poses the question of why just a little more than a month ago that was simply not an option. One can't but suspect that the authorities were planning to do exactly what they were being warned against doing: creating the basis for easy access to all iPhones.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Don't leave hacking to private firms

IT companies and national authorities must do more to cooperate in the area of data encryption, the liberal business paper L'Echo demands:

“The fact that the FBI finally managed to hack into the iPhone without Apple complying to its demands is bad news for everyone: the authorities, Apple, and the people. We now know that decryption technology exists, but that it is not in the hands of authorities subject to the control of the judiciary. No, it is in the hands of a private company whose sole goal is to make money. For that reason the authorities - both American and European - and the IT giants must take time to get to know each other and to formulate clear protocols for cooperation. We urgently need an open debate on encryption, its necessity and its weaknesses.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

Balance freedom and security

In the fight against terror the goal must be to find the right balance between protecting privacy and satisfying security requirements, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat comments on the FBI's iPhone hack:

“Ever since Edward Snowden exposed the mass surveillance by the NSA, the secrecy of communications has been a big deal. … In Europe too, the growing number of terrorist attacks has led to debates about the powers of the intelligence services. The premise is that secrecy of communications is inviolable as long as there are no grounds for suspecting a major crime. The key question is therefore to what extent the communications of people suspected of terrorist connections can be put under surveillance. The debate about extremes - either absolute protection or no protection at all - isn't productive. Freedom and security must always be kept in balance.”

The Independent (GB) /

Personal data none of FBI's business

Apple is doing the right thing in standing up to the FBI, the centre-left daily The Independent affirms:

“Tim Cook is right when he argues that the order, if left unchallenged, would have a much broader impact than merely assisting the FBI in this case. First, it would force the development of software which has the capacity to override the security features on millions of iPhones, the very vast majority of which are owned by innocent, law-abiding citizens. If it fell into the wrong hands, such software could obviously be used for criminal purposes. Even putting that possibility aside, it is hard to believe US security services would not seek to employ it to access the data of other individuals of interest.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

US in above its head in crypto war

The conservative daily Corriere della Sera talks of a "crypto war" between Apple and the US government and takes a critical view of both sides:

“If a system were developed that could crack an iPhone's anti-hacker mechanisms all iPhones would be vulnerable, it's true. Nonetheless we should distrust the high priests of technology, who make a moral virtue of innovation, i.e. business. … The weakness of the American political class, crippled as it is by the Republicans' war against Obama, is also worrying. It is proving ill-prepared and incapable of comprehending the momentous changes that continually advancing digital technology entails. This lag is all the more apparent when we look at the order issued by the Los Angeles court. … In order to force Apple to cooperate with the FBI Judge Sheri Pym had to resort to the All Writs Act of 1789 - a law that dates back to the French Revolution.”

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RTE News (IE) / 30 March 2016
  Row between FBI and Apple only postponed