Public Enemy #1 – The iPhone?

by Diane Dimond on March 14, 2016

A Criminal's Best Friend If It Has OS 8 Installed.

A Criminal’s Best Friend If It Has iOS 8 Installed

In this corner – the FBI – which says that all high tech company Apple cares about is protecting its mega-profits brand and not the nation’s security.

And in that corner – Apple – which says the feds will put everyone’s privacy in jeopardy if a court forces them to disable password protection on the iPhone of dead terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife shot to death 14 of his San Bernardino County co-workers last December and seriously wounded 22.

There might be valuable information on Farook’s phone, information that could help thwart future terrorist attacks. But then again, maybe there’s nothing on that phone at all. Both sides say it’s the principal of the issue at stake.

Welcome to the War on Crime’s newest battlefield:  High tech cell phones, the latest incarnation of which Apple developed with the uncrackable operating system known as iOS 8. Even armed with a search warrant information on these phones cannot be accessed because Apple deliberately designed them so there is no way around their encryption.

Miller Heads NYPD's Counter-Terrorism Unit

Miller Heads NYPD’s Counter-Terrorism Unit

John Miller, New York City’s counterterrorism chief has groused about Apple’s controversial iPhone product saying the company is, “Actually providing aid to the kidnappers, robbers and murderers who have been recorded on the telephones in Rikers Island (prison) telling their compatriots on the outside, ‘You gotta get iOS 8. It’s a gift from God’ – and that’s a quote – ‘because the cops can’t crack it.’”

This cyber conundrum frustrates law enforcement officials and prosecutors nationwide. In Manhattan, the NYPD cyber lab has some 200 of these iPhones, perhaps chock full of incriminating information cops could use to bring criminals to justice.

In California, the LA County Sheriff has at least 150 phones that detectives believe could aid in criminal investigations. The LAPD reports they have about 300. The sheriff in Sacramento has nearly 90 of these untouchable pieces of potential evidence.


DA Moore Among the Frustrated Prosecutors

DA Moore Among the Frustrated Prosecutors

But imagine the dilemma faced by District Attorney Hillar Moore of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He says he doesn’t just think there is evidence on the phone of murder victim, Brittany Mills, he knows it.

Mills, 29, was nearly nine months pregnant when she was shot dead on her doorstep last April. Her mother, Barbara, told police her daughter was being harassed and turned to her iPhone to chronicle her troubles.

“She told me the negative things that happened to her she put on her phone, in a diary,” Mills said. “She kept a diary on her phone.”

Almost a year later DA Moore has not found the person responsible for the Mills double murder. (Brittany’s child was delivered but died a week later) In addition, Moore says, he’s got another 60 impenetrable iPhones waiting in an evidence locker, symbols of today’s crime fighting challenge.

Mills Left a Diary on her iPhone - Cops Need It

Mills Left a Diary on her iPhone – Cops Need It

“We can get into a bank’s safe,” Moore told NBC News. “The biggest baddest safe you want to make …(but) not a locked phone. I can beat that phone to death but I’m not going to get what I want out of that phone.”

There is another side to the controversy. Apple says what the feds want is for their engineers to write new software that would create a backdoor to iPhones so the government can peek in at will.

Apple Vice President, Craig Federighi, says, “Once created, this software … would become a weakness that hackers and criminals could use to wreak havoc on the privacy and personal safety of us all.”

Can you imagine the damage, say, a cyber-savvy terror group could unleash if it won the clandestine bidding war for this encryption-busting software? A pathway into tens of millions of iPhones creates predictable targets: Those in control of the nation’s power grid, the water supply or sensitive government computer systems. Apple has a point.

Federighi Wants Customers Protected, FBI Wants to Protect All

Apple VP, Craig Federighi

There’s got to be a balance struck. Apple holds all the cards as it is the only entity on the planet that knows the secrets about how it all works. But remember, law enforcement is our front line against criminals – including murderers, gang members, even purveyors of child porn – and their secrets are often stored on their iPhones. How to reconcile the two sides?

Perhaps Apple develops the software and, together with the feds, it is protected like Ft. Knox. Maybe a special cyber court panel convenes to decide which phones hold verifiable potential for solid information. Or maybe the government gets smart and hires its own computer geniuses to figure out a way in to suspect’s iPhones. Nothing is perfect – not even Apple.


NOTE TO READERS:  So, here’s a question: What’s more important – keeping what’s on your encrypted cell phone private or what the fed’s call, “National Security”?

Your comments welcome…


Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Facebook Friend Drew Rutberg writes:

“I’ll go with national security. At this point every iPhone should come with a,sticker that say Isis Apple has your back”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Facebook Friend Kurt G. Kaner writes:

“Cellphone privacy. The Feds need to do a better job. Their failures shouldn’t equal an erosion of our rights.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Twitter Voter CatsGuardian2 writes:

“@DiDimond National Security”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Twitter Voter Laylaisalive writes:

“@DiDimond National Security.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Twitter Voter kballard27 writes:

“@DiDimond national security if it has to do with a terrorist”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Twitter Voter starshine9160 writes:

@DiDimond National security. I rarely use my cell phone and if they’re that bored that they want to listen to my calls they’re welcome to.

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Twitter Voter RobertTheBruce writes:

“@starshine9160 @DiDimond it’s a slippery slope…give an inch they WILL take a mile..Re-frame the question: will you give up ur rights 4eva?”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Twitter Voter 4citkane writes:

“@DiDimond National Security”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Facebook Friend Gordon Hamel writes:

“While I still have very little faith in the Feds, if more than 2 know a secret it will be all over. Still, I believe we should put national security first.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Facebook Friend Daniel Thomas Moran writes:

“Diane Dimond there is no longer such a thing as privacy in America, anyway. I know because I am old enough to recall when there was. Privacy ended on an exact date, Sept. 11th, 2001. That was the date that America let its fear obliterate every other concern. Now, fifteen years later, after an unfathomable accumulation of that fear, America has found its savior in the person of Donald Trump, who has assured America that it is wholly justified, that their fear in fact has room yet to grow, and that there is only one way to deal with it, elect him President.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Oh, Daniel, I fear you are exactly right.

My stomach churns when I think of how our national mood/ reputation/ culture will coarsen if Trump is elected POTUS. I understand that people are angry, fearful, frustrated and tired of endless work so the government can take more and more taxes out….But responding to challenges as Trump does – in his arrogant, belligerent and bullying way is not, in my opinion, the solution to our nation’s problems. ~DD

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Facebook Friend Ted Mcaleer writes:

“No to giving up the code. I don’t trust the govt to keep it (the crack) safe.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Facebook Friend Dawn Dix writes:

“It’s a tough one, because I feel that if I’m not doing anything illegal or immoral, why should i care if they see my phone calls?”

Write a reply…

Facebook Friend Joya Colucci Lord writes:

“National security. Our government doesn’t want “the code.” They want Apple to unlock the phone.

I worked for 21 years in the national security field as an intelligence officer. We were bound by some extremely strict laws that governed how we treated the communication of private American citizens. The primary directive we, as intelligence professionals, followed was USSID 18. Because of the classified nature of the subject AND the sheer volume of information, I couldn’t possibly give a complete tutorial on USSID 18 and the way that the government handles signals intelligence (SIGINT). Signals intelligence is basically any electronic communication, foreign or domestic, and Tom Wither does a good job of drilling down this information for public consumption. If you are interested in this subject, please read!

That all being said, as an American woman, veteran, and daughter of immigrants, I, too am nauseated by the thought of Trump as President. Unfortunately, I am not enamored with any of the other viable choices, either.”

USSID 18 & Your Privacy
Over the last year, some media outlets have used the leaked classified material from Edward Snowden to…

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Facebook Friend Pat Melchionno It’s not that easy DD my friend. I want to help FBI get terrorists and I can’t stand Apples priopritory shid but I (sadly) support them in this stand, I really do. They created this device with promise of security to the people. // It is sad because those who stand with Apple look heartless or unAmerican when in reality it’s very American to stand with Apples promise of privacy.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Facebook Friend Facebook Friend Jim Reynolds writes:

“National Security can help secure some if our other more important rights, like the right to live to see another day…”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Facebook Friend Daniel Thomas Moran writes:

“If you are willing to give this away, what will you agree to give away next?// Only weeks after 9/11 my wife and I took my two kids to a concert at Madison Square Garden. When we got to the entrance, there were police frisking people and asking women to open their bags to be searched. My wife said that she was absolutely not going to allow that to happen, that it was illegal and unconstitutional and a violation of our rights. Refusing was an option if we just turned around and spent the three hours to go back home and not see the show. We went in. I told her that it was a new world and we might have to get used to it. I still pisses me off. It has gotten many magnitudes worse since then.Now, you still have your rights against illegal search and seizure and your right to privacy, so long as you don’t want to fly somewhere, or go to a ballgame, or spend an nice afternoon in a museum, or visit the office of any government agency, or walk the streets of New York City without being videotaped every where you go.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Dawn Dix replies:

“Hmmm….good points Daniel. But searching peoples’ purses and bags, to ME, is something we must do…it’s the way of the world…think of Israel, having to live with daily possibilities of suicide attacks…it’s reached our shores. // And I applaud your courage and defiance by going to MSG a few weeks afterward.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Daniel Thomas Moran replies to Dawn:

“It did not take any courage. It was a Grateful Dead concert. Two minute after the lights went out, my then 13 year old daughter started sniffing the air around her. She turned to me with an indignant look and asked me what The Grateful Dead would think if they knew that all their fans were taking drugs at their show.”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Facebook Friend Rob Farfan writes:

“First it’s the iPhone, then it’s your landline, then it’s your computer, they might as well. Put a GPS on you. Where does it end ?”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Twitter Pal capricorn1860 writes:

“@DiDimond only with a court issued warrant, i hope Apple doesn’t give government unfettered access to our data, abuse is guaranteed”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Twitter Pal LexRoberts2 writes:

“@DiDimond for the sake of security the feds should have the right to get into suspects phones only, what ever crime..”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Twitter Pal Twitter Pal bbwjwts20 writes:

“@DiDimond Never! I never need or want my privacy compromised! UGH! Government: Stay out of our private lives!”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Twitter Pal Twitter pal kelownaolde writes:

@DiDimond in terms of a country’s security and a known or convicted terrorist Apple should help every time. Security of a nation is priority”

Diane Dimond March 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Twitter Pal Twitter Pal copperbird7 writes:

“DiDimond No, apple should not help. If they do, any 14 yr old hacker from China Russia or America will be able to hack our iPhones.”

Tina March 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Apple products are some of the most secure in the world – that’s why doctors, lawyers, CEOs choose their products. If Apple is forced to create the backdoor program, once it exists then it’s only a matter of time before it falls into the wrong hands. Hackers. Nobody cares what’s on the average laypersons phone…except of course your credit and debit card information, medical records, corporate documents. Because that backdoor the FBI wants more than likely won’t just work to crack an iPhone – it will crack ANY Apple product running on the same iOS. That’s right, iPads, iMacs and MacBooks. Apple offered their assistance early on in the investigation and were snubbed. McAfee offered to crack the phone with his team but the FBI turned him down. Why? Because they want the program that will enable them to do any and all. This is NOT about National Security. This is about our privacy.
I stand with Apple.

Kararji March 15, 2016 at 5:04 am

Once again: freedom will be sacrifieced on the battlefield of security.

Lee Griffo March 15, 2016 at 10:21 am

I am less worried about a terrorist state exploiting a “back door” than I am about our government having unlimited access to information we were led to believe was private. Companies have a right to create unbreakable encryption–if they can–and we can purchase it or not. A court should be able to compel a suspect to unlock a phone (or a safe), but forcing a third-party to create an all-access pass is a bridge too far. See 4th Amendment.

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

Facebook Friend Dick Stapleton writes:

“I wish we were really talking about national security, which I get and would support, but this opens the door to every Tom, Dick and Harry cop or prosecutor for whatever. There are hundreds if not thousands of requests already in the queue wanting access. The problem is, if allowed, where the line is drawn. And would that line pertain overseas. Not that I’m paranoid or anything …”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:27 am

Facebook Friend Willy Kiyotte writes:

“When governments have all the power, that is the end of freedom. I love my country, but I -and you – should fear our government, especially when they can force their way into my private life because of conditions they themselves created.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Twitter Pal ellenvel1 writes:

“@DiDimond yes Apple should help with any kind of proven terrorist activity.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Twitter Pal SuzanneFoubert writes:

“@DiDimond i dont trust the feds with anything.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Twitter Pal capricorn1860 writes:

“@DiDimond only with a court issued warrant, i hope Apple doesn’t give government unfettered access to our data, abuse is guaranteed.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:31 am

Twitter Pal BillieCossette writes:

“@DiDimond National Security If Im not saying anything damaging then I dont care if they listen in they will just pass on my calls”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:33 am

Facebook Friend Om Karar writes:

“Once again: freedom will be sacrifieced on the battlefield of security.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:33 am

Facebook Friend Robert B. Reno writes:

“Depends on the threat. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that terrorists could get their hands on a nuclear weapon from Pakistan or Kim Jong Un might plant one on a ship or plane bound for the U.S. If those involved were using cell phones it would be necessary to tap into those phones in order to stop a devastating attack.”

Diane Dimond March 15, 2016 at 11:33 am

Facebook Friend Willy Kiyotte writes:

“Reading some of the comments here, I can only shudder at that prophetic voice of FDR, as we are being sold the notion of fear itself. Give up your own freedoms, but keep your hands off mine.”

Bruce Sturgis March 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Actually the question needs to include this as well: when the US Government is granted this access, most likely every other government where iPhones are sold will probably request the same capability, for their “National Security”.

So which is more important, your privacy, or every nation on Earth’s “National Security”… Once China and Russia gets this ability, will anyone’s personal information be safe?

Please add this information to your article and discussion.

Lisa March 16, 2016 at 2:22 am

This is my issue–
Before, police & FBI would go on phones illegally.

What I don’t like is the FBI saying, ” just this one time” then turn around and say they would use ruling for future cases.

Don’t forget the FBI told the County to reset the iPhone password and them idiots (sorry if anyone is offended) could not remember what they set the password to.

I don’t trust our government. They are using the victims as pawns, the FBI won’t share the info with the victims.

Diane Dimond March 19, 2016 at 5:38 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Louise Bergin writes:

Dear Ms. Dimond,

I read your piece in last Saturday’s Albuquerque Journal about the conflict between Apple and the government. I am trying to make up my mind about this issue. One of the questions I have is why doesn’t a warrant work to open a single phone? In the case of the San Bernardino terrorists, if there is a warrant, can’t Apple disable the security measures for that one phone and give it to the government? Or in those other cases you mentioned, like the pregnant woman who was killed. Why does Apple have to reveal the security codes? Maybe this is where I don’t understand, but it seems to me, that an Apple technician can open the phone without revealing to the FBI how it was done. A judge has signed a warrant for that particular phone, so the government doesn’t get phone-wide access to all cell phones, thus protecting the innocent individuals.

Why is this thinking incorrect?

Louise Bergin

Diane Dimond March 19, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Dear Louise,

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as the FBI presenting a warrant to Apple…

You asked, >> “In the case of the San Bernardino terrorists, if there is a warrant, can’t Apple disable the security measures for that one phone and give it to the government?” <<<< In short, Apple claims that they have never developed the software needed to open ANY of their phones. They claim that they did this so customers would feel secure in their privacy if they bought an I-Phone. Apple says it now develops all their phones with unbreakable encryption software that makes it impossible for anyone to open up the phone to see its history. I, for one, am not really buying that. Apple designed these phones, they can surely design software to crack them open....but again, they say they never tasked their computer engineers to do that. And, one official said, it would cost millions and millions to developed that software and once its created the bad guys will stop at nothing to get it. Hope this helps you make up your mind about this issue! Its a complicated one, for sure. Thanks for writing! Diane Dimond

Jacqueline March 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm

There is no such thing as “once”– neither for legitimate law enforcement, nor even more important– anywhere Apple sells phones.
Dissidents everywhere will be unprotected, when countries/leaders we do not agree with insist on having the very same ‘privilege’
My negative response is based on the disingenuous presentation by FBI that is “just one”– That alone cannot be trusted, so how can anything else? They can investigate “metadata”– the recipients of calls/texts,(what do they have?) the off-phone storage (Google drives, emails, etc.) any cloud used.
They just want PRECEDENT, allowing no encryption to ever be off limits.

Safety Girl November 2, 2016 at 9:25 pm

This hacking stuff is insane, I believe I’ve lost my mind. When I found out who my cyberstalker is I AM MAD because I know him and trusted him. I am very upset he continued to cross the line after I warned him and I feel he is laughing after I incurred great expense…5 I-phones (for me and my daughter), I switched phone carriers, wifi passwords, router, new email accounts, g-mail domain, wiped hard drives clean, EVERYTHING!!!

“g*****) told me “I have an immediate threat, a serious intrusion on my network with direct ipv6 connection and someone has full control of MY COMPUTER AND ALL MY DEVICES…

Nobody can do anything??? This is America, I am human being and this person harmed my family welfare. Where is justice? I HAVE PROOF AND NOTHING CAN BE DONE? I AM MY OWN CORPORATION ALSO!!!!

I said today, “(He) would not let me access Craigslist website to look for a job, he didn’t allow me” YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!! I contracted to this man and he controlled my website traffic and took over my phone calls and text messages. I had the phone in my hand and texts/calls not going through. I have been harassed by this man and it is unacceptable

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