FBI Will Force Apple to Remotely Turn on iPhone Cameras & Microphones Next

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Our grid depends on this mineral

Editor’s Note: That is, if they aren’t already doing that right now…

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by Nadia Prupis

If the FBI successfully manages to force Apple to unlock the suspected San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, the government could use the precedent to require the tech company to remotely turn on users’ iPhone microphones and cameras, Apple’s senior vice president warned this week.

Eddy Cue, speaking to Univision in a Spanish-language interview, reiterated Apple’s argument that its case against the FBI is not just about one phone or one suspect, but rather an issue of user privacy.

“When they can get us to create a new system to do new things, where will it stop?” Cue said, according to a translation provided to Business Insider. “For example, one day [the FBI] may want us to open your phone’s camera or microphone. Those are things we can’t do now. But if they can force us to do that, I think that’s very bad.”

“Where will this stop?” Cue continued. “In a divorce case? In an immigration case? In a tax case? Some day, someone will be able to turn on a phone’s microphone. That should not happen in this country.”

The interview comes as the FBI continues its efforts to compel Apple to create new software that would enable the agency to break into the encrypted iPhone of suspected San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, which Apple has refused to do on privacy grounds.

Cue noted that the tech company has not resisted helping the FBI altogether, and continues to give the government “all the data we have.”

“In this case, the problem is that they want us to give the one thing that we do not have,” he said. “What they want is for us to provide a key to the backdoor of your house, but we do not 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 then have a key capable of opening all phones. And that key, once it exists, exists not only for us. Terrorists, criminals, pirates, they too will be able to find and use that key to open all phones.”

Apple has picked up support throughout the tech industry, as well as from privacy advocates and users. On Wednesday, whistleblower Edward Snowden said during a democracy conference that the FBI’s claim that it can’t unlock Farook’s iPhone without Apple’s help, “respectfully, [is] bullshit.”

The United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also said last week that forcing Apple to create decryption software could unlock “a Pandora’s Box that could have extremely damaging implications for the human rights of many millions of people, including their physical and financial security.”

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Contributed by Nadia Prupis of Common Dreams.

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  • Broos

    They only wanna erase the evidence that the accused was a stooge for Their FALSE FLAG!

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  • Gambeir Bay

    Allow me to repeat that Broos

    They only wanna erase the evidence that the accused was a stooge for Their FALSE FLAG!

  • I forgot

    The truth is these people are just ‘peeping Toms’. All they want to do is look into people’s bedrooms so they can get a cheap thrill. Never trust the U.S. government.

  • Frank

    No, Apple will not provide the means for government spying on their customers. If they do, Apple will see their market share drop as people move away from iPhones – eventually. If smart phone spying becomes normal, we’ll also see means developed to defeat the spying. Classified (above) wrote about “dumb” phones, I think there will always be a market for them – there will always be a segment of the population that doesn’t need all of the apps and self-delusion-enabling gizmos – and you can still send Text messages with them. The meta-data that smart phones already collect and transmit is a form of spying, with your location and shopping preferences being collected and targeted by product marketing companies. At a minimum, disable the GPS function and make it a little more difficult for someone to track you. Buy an Otter Box or something similar to put your phone in when not in use, this way even if the camera or microphone are remotely activated they won’t be able to see or hear anything – but you can still hear the phone ring. If you’re really paranoid, build a mini Faraday container and block all signals to and from the phone when it’s not needed.

  • Undecider

    Where (or when) will it stop? When people decide to no longer use those devices.

  • abinico

    Don’t use an iPhone – problem solved.

    • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

      All cellphones work the same, only the OS and style are different.

      • abinico

        It is the OS that is the problem, so repeat – don’t use an iPhone.

        • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

          I have never owned a smartphone, and the only reason I have a cellphone is so I can be reached by those who insist on being able to.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

    They are always on anyway. The only things that are ever turned off on a cellphone are the display, keyboard, and speaker. Taking the battery out won’t turn them off if there is a battery soldered to motherboard.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

    Are you keeping your landline?