Apple executive fears the FBI could spy on US citizens using iPhone cameras and microphones

By midian182
Mar 10, 2016
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  1. It’s no secret that if the FBI comes out on top against Apple in the San Bernardino iPhone case, the consequences will be felt by tech companies and US citizens alike. But Apple’s senior VP of internet software and service, Eddy Cue, thinks a win for the government agency could mean government surveillance moving to a whole new level.

    On Wednesday, Cue gave a Spanish-language interview to Univision. In it, he said that if Apple is made to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s work-issued device, it could be the start of a slippery path that leads to the government forcing the Cupertino company to use an iPhone’s microphone and camera to spy on people.

    "When they can get us to create a new system to do new things, where will it stop?" Cue said. “One day the FBI may want us to open your phone's camera, microphone. Those are things we can't do now. But if they can force us to do that, I think that's very bad. That should not happen in this country."

    Cue confirmed in the interview that, as expected, Apple will appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court if it loses the case. The company also plans to continue improving the encryption features found on its devices.

    Cue also pointed out the US government's poor record when it came to keeping data - including that of its own employees - safe from hackers. He argued that Apple’s opposition to the FBI's demands is an attempt by the company to protect the public.

    What they want is to give them a key to the back door of your house, and we don't have the key. Since we don't have the key, they want us to change the lock. When we change the latchkey, it changes for everyone. And we have a key that opens all phones. And that key, once it exists, exists not only for us. Terrorists, criminals, pirates, all too will find that key to open all phones.

    Apple has the backing of a number of big tech companies in the legal case, including rivals Microsoft. The firms plan on filing a joint amicus brief supporting the iPhone maker in its upcoming trial.

    Recently, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden entered the debate, saying the FBI’s assertation that only Apple has the “exclusive technical means” to unlock the iPhone was “bulls**t.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,512   +675

    As early as the 1950's AT&T has the capability to "turn on" your telephone, even with the handset in the cradle. They could also magnify the microphone to a level of sensitivity it could clearly record whispered conversations in other rooms. This was exposed at a later date when the FBI used the recordings to gain convictions of potential Soviet spies operating within the USA. With a transmitted signal both in and out, they could easily send or attach to a common message and/or graphic, the same kernel that would enable this capability on every cell phone. If you doubt this, just go read the back channel discussions of the first edition of Angry Birds. Yesterday the Govt. was forced to acknowledge that they had been operating drones via the Air Force around the United States and "claimed" the Secretary of Defense nix'ed a number of requests to spy on American Citizens.

    Initially I was very angry about the Edward Snowdon incident, but as time goes by and we realize just how secretive and illegal our governments operations are, particularly against our own citizens, I must say that nothing any longer surprises me.

    My only regret is that we have generations of children and young adults growing up to accept this as the norm, and not fully understanding the ramifications on their every day lives. Sadly, yet another strong indication of how far this country is swinging away from a democracy and to a socialistic state.
    Evernessince likes this.
  3. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,436   +592

    This ain't news.
    iPhone users have already agreed to let them track, see and report everything you do to whomever they wish. EVERYTHING.
    Dinky little phones anyways.
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,102   +532

    It really is sad and with recent Judges saying that even just having your cellphone on is consenting to being tracked, there is no where you can be private. As the NSA saying goes "You have no expectation of privacy on the internet".
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 936   +242

    Could spy? They probably already are.
  6. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Guru Posts: 320   +253

    I was with you until the end there. What does spying have to do with socialism?

    The definition of socialism is "a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole." Govt spying is found in every government on the planet, regardless if its capitalist, communist, socialistic, theocracy, or anything in-between.
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,512   +675

    Like any socialistic state, the government uses any form of control they have available to keep their citizens in line; not the least of which is spying on them in order to prevent any "non-governmental" approved criticism or other form of what they would consider to be desent. Take a look at China's interaction with anyone they consider a dissident including the large number of people that simply disappear, never to be heard of again. While the definition is correct, if does not cover the actions and conduct of their leadership in order to maintain power.
  8. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +113

    Here's a bulletin: they can do that now with the Stingray.
    Any device using public airwaves is not guaranteed private, it's public by definition.
    The device can be rendered secure by shutting it down and removing the battery.
  9. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 860   +308

    I think people mean totalitarian when they say socialistic. This has occurred in more than a few threads
    I agree with Snowden "the FBI’s assertion that only Apple has the “exclusive technical means” to unlock the iPhone was “bulls**t.”
  10. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,512   +675

    Stingray is impressive, although it does have it's limitations of range and can be defeated by proper grounding through "netting". It comes out of technology developed over 30 years ago by Bell Labs in conjunction with the Dept of the Navy. The definition of "privacy" has nothing to do with the means the message it transmitted by, it has to do with the reasonable expectation of the sanctity of confidentiality each person has come to expect, rooted in law and practice for the majority of the last century ... all destroyed by the roots of the Patriots Act. It is that statement "Any device using public airwaves is not guaranteed private, it's public by definition." is not only wrong but it is dangerous to our liberties because you have already bought into the premise rather than demand an explanation from those that seek to take it away from us. If you are reader you might look up with is frequently referred to as "The Jeffersonian Papers" where many of these concepts were discussed through correspondence between Jefferson & Hamilton during the infancy of the constitution. Just a thought .....
  11. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +113

    You can expect to have privacy in changing rooms, showers, saunas, bathrooms and in your own home if (and only if) you close the curtains. Anywhere else you are fair game, I know, I am a photographer and it has come up often in that line.

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