Following Tim Cook’s letter, the White House has reacted to Apple’s strong stance against backdoors. According to Reuters, the White House has said that the Department of Justice isn’t asking for a backdoor to unlock the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino case. Instead, the Government only wants help for one device.
Reuters attended a media briefing in Washington and reported the White House’s answer on this issue. According to Reuters, the White House emphasized the fact that the Department of Justice is only asking for access to a single iPhone.
The Department of Justice is not asking Apple to “create a new backdoor to its products,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during the briefing according to Reuters. “The president certainly believes that is an important national priority,” Earnest also said.
The entire point of Cook’s letter is that this case is a slippery slope. Apple has a few options. If it complies with the FBI and provides a new firmware to access the content of one iPhone, the FBI could use this firmware against countless of other iPhones (at least for the iPhone 5c model and below).
“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks,” Cook wrote.
If Apple supervises this process, the FBI could reverse-engineer the firmware. If Apple makes sure the FBI doesn’t see this firmware, it creates a precedent. Nothing would stop the FBI from asking for other backdoors for just one phone, again and again.
In other words, it’s a clear dilemma with only two options, and Apple has taken a stance against helping the FBI. Apple is saying that backdoors would compromise security and anyone would be able to exploit a backdoor. The EFF has written a statement to support Apple as well as the American Civil Liberties Union. Also worth noting, other tech giants have been silent for the past 24 hours.