Apple Vs. the FBI: Everything you need to know


Apple Vs. the FBI: Everything you need to know

After a California judge ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists last week, a lot has happened. Everyone from Donald Trump to Jack Dorsey have weighed in, all with their own take on how Apple should handle the situation.

We’ve summarized the whole saga into one timeline so you can either dig deeper into last week’s events, or just quickly catch your self up. We’ll also continue to update this timeline as more events unfold, so continue to check back so you can stay in the loop.

Apple vs FBI


Tim Cook says Apple won’t create universal iPhone backdoor for FBI

The ordeal started this Wednesday after a California judge ordered Apple to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Tim Cook responded with an open letter saying Apple would appeal the request, and not develop a “backdoor” for its software.


White House plays with words, says Department of Justice isn't asking Apple to create backdoor

Later that day the White House gets involved, reacting to Apple’s strong letter by saying 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.


Why Apple is fighting not to unlock iPhones for the government

At the end of day one we took an in-depth look at the situation, with TechCrunch writer Natasha Lomas arguing why Apple is right to reject the FBI’s push to brute force iPhone security, and TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino breaking down why Apple is fighting not to unlock iPhones for the government.


Google’s CEO says “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy.”

Next, Google’s Sundar Pichai threw his support behind Apple’s recent decision to push back against the FBI and not build a backdoor into iOS. In the Google CEO’s first tweetstorm, Sundar notes that requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data “could be a troubling precedent.”


No, Apple has not unlocked 70 iPhones for law enforcement

We noted that there have been numerous reports that Apple has unlocked “70 iPhones” for the government. And those reports argue that Apple is now refusing to do for the FBI what it has done many times before. TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino dissected this misinformation and clarified that these were times that Apple helped extract data off pre-iOS 8 devices, not unlock devices.


Mark Cuban commends Apple, proposes new law for tech security

Mark Cuban jumped into the foray, commending Apple on standing up to the FBI, but suggesting that there needs to be stronger legislation on the topic, so going forward it would be clear exactly when governments could request an unlock.


Apple Gets An Extension In iPhone Unlock Case, Response Now Due February 26th

Apple was originally ordered to respond to the FBI’s request by Tuesday, but received an extension, meaning it now has until Friday, February 26th to reply to the court order.


Twitter’s founder, Facebook pledge support for Apple as it fights court order to unlock iPhone

Other shakers and movers in the tech world threw their support behind Apple, as Twitter Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted in support of Apple, and Facebook issued a statement saying that they will “continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems.”


Justice Department files motion to force Apple to comply with backdoor request

Late Friday afternoon the U.S Department of Justice got involved in the drama, filing a motion asking Apple to comply with the California judge’s order to unlock the iPhone of one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino shooting.


Box’s Aaron Levie defends Apple amid FBI controversy

Box CEO Aaron Levie spoke to Techcrunch about the ordeal, saying that “Apple’s response to the government is something we completely wholeheartedly agree with. The world is going to get more complex, so you can’t create weaknesses in software that then will become vulnerabilities in the future.”


Donald Trump says you should boycott Apple

Donald Trump came out in support of the government during a rally yesterday. Specifically, he explained that “the phone is not even owned by this young thug that killed all these people, “The phone’s owned by the government. Not even his phone, we don’t even have to go that far. But Tim Cook is looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is.”

Trump was referring to the fact that the phone in question was provided to the shooter by the county medical facility where the shooter worked, and was not a personal phone.


Apple executives detail scope of FBI request and company’s motivations for not complying

Apple executives took the time to clarify the situation and bring reporters up to date on the FBI’s request and their response. One notable point from the call is that the executives also reiterated that they abhor terrorism, but that have opposed the order because they care deeply about protecting the safety of the majority of people who are not terrorists.


FBI Director denies wanting to create a backdoor into the iPhone

Over the weekend, FBI director FBI Director James Comey penned an op-ed on Writing for Lawfare, a not-for-profit, addressing the ongoing standoff between Apple and the FBI over access to the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Essentially, he argued that the organization is not trying to break Apple’s encryption or set up backdoor access to the company’s devices and services.


In employee email, Tim Cook calls for commission on interaction of technology and intelligence gathering

As a response to Comey’s letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email out to employees about the FBI’s request to unlock an iPhone with the subject line ‘Thank you for your support’. The email outlines some responses to Cook’s open letter last week and paints the issue of Apple’s refusal to cooperate as one of civil liberties.


Apple files to dismiss iPhone court order

Apple filed a motion to vacate in the case of the FBI compelling Apple to assist in unlocking an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook. In the motion, Apple hinges its argument on the fact that the FBI is attempting to greatly expand the use of the All Writs Act.


Apple hires developer behind Signal

Frederic Jacobs, a Switzerland-based developer who worked to develop secure messaging app Signal — the communications app of choice for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — announced on the 25th that he is joining Apple for a summer internship. While not clear what his role will be at the company, Jacobs could potentially be working on helping make a more secure iPhone.


NY judge rules in favor of Apple in a government request for iPhone data

In a New York case, Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled in favor of Apple, denying a government request for information on an iPhone. This is significant because Judge Ornstein denied the government’s expanded interpretation of the All Writs Act (AWA), which is the same act that the FBI is trying to use to get Apple to unlock the terrorist’s iPhone in California.


Read Apple’s opening statement to Congress

One the eve of Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell’s testimony before a congressional Judiciary Committee, the company released his opening statement, which can be read in full here. The hearing has been convened to discuss what is being described as “The Encryption Tightrope” — subtitle: “Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy”.


Box, Google, Facebook, Microsoft come out in support of Apple in amicus brief

Box, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others file an amicus brief, meaning that they have aligned interests and want their voice to be heard in the upcoming appeals.

This is a different amicus brief than the one filed by Square, Twitter, LinkedIn.


San Bernardino DA claims Syed Farouk’s iPhone may house ‘cyber pathogen’

FBI Director James Comey admitted that his agency isn’t aware of what data is contained on the iPhone used by the shooter. The husband of a survivor of the tragedy cast doubt on any meaningful information lying on the device. Yet, the San Bernardino District Attorney speculated that the phone may house a “dormant cyber pathogen” that threatens the county.


The UN warns that the FBI forcing Apple to weaken iOS security could endanger lives

UN’s Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein argues that privacy is a pre-requisite for security, and calls for clear red lines to protect personal data in the digital age.


Apple head of software engineering says FBI’s demands compromise the safety of all iOS users

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering (and one of its most popular WWDC presenters) says the FBI’s demands on the company will make all iOS users more vulnerable to malicious attacks in an opinion piece for the Washington Post.


Justice Department appeals pro-Apple decision in New York iPhone case

Authorities in New York take the first step to appealing the judge’s ruling last month that denied a request for information held on an iPhone.

Apple successfully appealed the order on the grounds that it relied on an expanded interpretation of the All Writs Act (AWA). Apple could unlock the New York iPhone since it is an older model — an iPhone 5s — running its dated iOS 7 software, that doesn’t feature the same security setup as iOS 8, which Apple itself isn’t able to circumvent.


Apple and the Justice Department enter the ‘open hostilities’ phase of iPhone unlocking case

A 43-page rebuttal from the Justice Department characterized Apple’s earlier response to an iPhone unlocking request as ‘corrosive’. Shortly thereafter, an Apple press conference attended by TechCrunch provided a rejoinder from two Apple executives, including General Counsel Bruce Sewell, who said that “the tone of the brief reads like an indictment.”


Justice Department drops lawsuit against Apple

The FBI has unlocked Farook’s iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino shooting using an alternative method that didn’t involve Apple. Given this new development, the Department of Justice is dropping the case.


FBI agrees to unlock iPhone for Arkansas prosecutor

So it begins. The FBI generously offers its assistance in unlocking an iPhone and iPod for a prosecutor in Arkansas. The case is the alleged murder of a couple by two teenagers, and the prosecution on Tuesday received a postponement to the trial in order to request help in unlocking the iPhone and iPod.


FBI says method used to unlock iPhone doesn’t work with iPhone 5s or newer

The FBI disclosed their alternative method of unlocking the phone to some U.S. senatorsAccording to CNN, the method doesn’t work on all iPhones.

In particular, it doesn’t work with iPhone 5s or the newest models. So the FBI can’t simply just hack into an iPhone 6s using the tool it just bought.