Apple encryption engineers could quit the company rather than carry out work which would create a so–called backdoor into an iPhone belonging to the terrorist behind last year’s San Bernardino attacks.
The New York Times says it has spoken with over half a dozen software engineers at the company who said they would either have serious misgivings about doing the FBI’s bidding. Some said they would sooner leave their jobs than undermine encryption tools they helped to build.
Currently this remains a theoretical position. Apple and the FBI are due to start court proceedings on March 22nd to determine whether Apple should comply with a federal order to unlock the aforementioned device. Even if the FBI wins Apple is likely to exhaust all legal avenues before complying.
Apple is adamant that opening up the phone using software that does not yet exist would set a dangerous precedent, making it easier for criminals to crack iPhones in the future. The FBI has accused Apple of scare tactics and dubbed its for–encryption strategy to be a marketing ploy.
Employees at Apple are said to be deeply concerned about the FBI’s approach. Building what has been dubbed ‘GovtOS’ would require a huge amount of work and would, they say, undermine what Apple stands for. They have suggested that any refusal would be a case of them exercising First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
Apple will be hoping that an earlier ruling in a separate case, which saw it succeed in arguing against breaking open the iPhone of a known drugs offender, can help it score a victory over the FBI.
New York Times
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