Briefing

Apple drops device backup encryption feature following FBI objections

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About two years ago, the technology company reportedly planned to allow users to encrypt iCloud copies of the contents of their iPhones, which the firm would have been unable to unlock. Cybercrime and technology officials at the law enforcement agency said the change would impede their investigations. Apple declined to comment on why it did not move forward with the plans, and the FBI did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Leaving iCloud backups unencrypted makes it easier for law enforcement to search an investigation subject’s data and communications, since they would otherwise need physical access to their devices, and the ability to unlock them. Per its own disclosures, Apple has complied in whole or part with 90 per cent of requests it has received. U.S. authorities asked for and received access to 6,000 accounts across 1,568 cases in the first half of 2019. But it has refused to create special software workarounds to unlock suspects’ devices. The Trump administration publicly criticized Apple for taking that stance in a case involving an attack on a naval base in Florida in December 2019.