This is a very serious disclosure for the data protection and privacy of Apple users. International media report that, after receiving a complaint from the FBI, the tech company abandoned its plans to implement full encryption on its users’ iCloud security backups. The US government agency would have argued that this encryption hinders its investigative work.
The decision would have been made a couple of years ago, although it had not been previously disclosed. Unlike Apple public statements and marketing campaigns, with which it purports to show itself as an always on consumer side company, this decision shows that Apple is willing to cooperate in this agency’s investigations, no matter what this includes stepping above the privacy of users, whether guilty or innocent.
Back then, data protection specialists from the
International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) leaked information about a
plan to encrypt any iCloud backup; at first this was intended as a method to
combat hacking, however, when the FBI
acknowledged this plan, the agency opposed this encryption, as its
implementation would have meant losing access to any readable backups in iCloud
even with a legal order in between.
The controversy over government agencies and
their desire for a way to access information on an encrypted device reawaken
after William Barr, US Attorney General, publicly asked Apple to unlock two iPhone
devices, owned by an agent from Saudi Arabia who shot three American officers
in Pensacola, Florida.
This request became a critic for the company
when President Donald Trump accused Apple of covering up “killers, drug
dealers and other criminals”, using as a pretext the data protection of
the rest of users not to unlock a potentially useful device in a criminal
investigation. As if that were not enough, congressmen from both parties have
begun to analyze the possibility of legislating against the use of encryption
in technological devices.
On the other hand, the company claims that the
iCloud backups of the shooting in Pensacola were delivered to the authorities,
rejecting official versions that claimed that Apple refused to cooperate in the