news Attorney-General George Brandis has called for Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December’s San Bernadino massacre.
The request was made by the FBI, which has been struggling to beat the iPhone’s encryption for over two months. However, Apple has refused to comply, warning in a letter to customers that the demand was a “chilling” breach of privacy.
Now the Attorney-General has joined those who call for Apple to concede on the affair, telling ABC Online: “We would expect, as in Australia, that all orders of courts should be obeyed by any party which is the subject of a lawful order by a court.”
“Frankly, if data is encrypted in a way that is entirely inaccessible, without the cooperation of the ISP or the maker of the device, then that makes inaccessible relevant investigative information that would hitherto have been accessible and that’s a problem for law enforcement,” Brandis went on to say. The eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon took a similar view when he tweeted:
Court order seems reasonable: Apple to disable auto-wipe on case by case basis is not akin 2 building a back door https://t.co/aqLvCcRJYj
— alastair macgibbon (@macgibbon) February 18, 2016
There are other individuals and organisations that support Apple in their stance, however.
“The US FBI’s demand that Apple build a ‘back door’ into the iPhone is extraordinarily reckless. There are millions of iOS devices in use in Australia. This proposal would put every single one of those users at risk of identity theft,” Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens Communications spokesperson, said today.
In a statement theAustralian Greens said that encryption technology is used by millions of people every day to manage financial transactions, to protect against identity theft and to keep their medical and other personal information safe.
“Developers of the technology should not be bullied by governments into making those protections weaker,” the statement said.
The Department of the Attorney-General recently estimated that identity theft costs Australia $1.6 billion per year – a number that is growing.
Forcing providers to weaken encryption is effectively an “identity theft stimulus package”, the Greens said.
Ludlam continued: “We’re already enduring the expensive, intrusive and ineffective metadata retention scheme in the name of the ‘war on terror’. Using the tragedies of terror attacks for a blatant power grab is an absolute disgrace, and it will have no tangible impact, and huge consequences.”
The senator concluded by urging the Attorney-General to help keep millions of Australian smartphone users safe, and write to his US counterparts asking them to reconsider the request to break a technology “we all depend on”.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting