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Apple, FBI, and iPhone Security: A Roundup of News and Links

Apple made headlines around the world last week when Tim Cook announced, in an open letter to their customers, that Apple would oppose a court order requiring it to circumvent iOS security features. Since then, new developments in the story have broken and many have contributed with explanations of why the outcome of this battle between Apple and the FBI is significant.

Our relative silence on this topic at MacStories is not because we don't think this story is important. To the contrary, we believe it is incredibly important and we applaud the principled stand that Cook's Apple has decided to make. But we are hesitant to wade into this important debate, which can be incredibly technical, when there are far smarter minds out there who better deserve your time and attention.

To that end, we've compiled a list of useful news articles, opinion pieces, and other resources that we believe are worth a few minutes of your time.


A great place to start is TechCrunch's interactive timeline of events (by Fitz Tepper) which covers the main news developments from last week.

Key News Stories

Just this morning, Apple's Tim Cook sent an all-hands memo to Apple employees, calling on the FBI to drop its request. Apple has also set up a website in which they answer questions and provide more information on this issue.

James Comey, the director of the FBI, published an article on Sunday in which he stated that the litigation against Apple "isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice".

Philip Elmer-DeWitt surveys some major US newspapers to see whether they wrote op-ed pieces in favor of Apple or the FBI.

BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski on the news that the FBI admits it asked the San Bernardino County to reset the iCloud password.

Apple executives told reporters that the software the FBI is asking for would also work on newer iPhones which contain the Secure Enclave chip.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook and FBI Director James Comey were both invited to testify before a congressional committee.

The US Department of Justice, in a court filing, characterised Apple's refusal to circumvent iOS security features as "based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy".

The New York Times provides some historical context on how this conflict between Apple and Justice Department finally came to a head last week.

The Washington Post list a number of US politicians who spoke out in favour of, or against, Apple.

Explanation Stories & Opinion Pieces

Jonathan Zdziarski, an iOS security expert, talks about the technical issue of forensic process in an easy to read and understandable way.

Troy Hunt provides an excellent explanation of what exactly is being requested, what is possible, and the implications of this case.

The New York Times on how Tim Cook became "a bulwark for digital privacy".

John Gruber on the revelation that the iCloud password was reset at the FBI's request.

Ben Thompson discusses this issue and highlights the risks for Apple to have made this public stand.

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