Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 1 April 2016

Did the FBI need Apple support at all?

The fight against terrorists is one of the most difficult any country can undertake. Having spent a significant portion of my working life checking the underside of my car before setting off to work I'm aware of how terrorists can affect your perception.

I've been watching the debate between Apple and the FBI regarding unlocking the San Bernadino bombers' phone with mixed emotions.

On one level it seems perfectly sensible to access all of the data ASAP to effect the arrest of any accomplices - and experience tells us that terrorists rarely act alone.  Then there comes the news that a specialist company has unlocked the iPhone without Apple's help, avoiding the need for messy legal action.

I've been of the opinion for some time that actually the FBI will have hacked that phone long ago.  If we were dealing with a British intelligence outfit, MI5 or 6 (correctly referred to as SIS) then probably we'd never know they had the phone in the first place.  If they did mention they were having difficulty in hacking it, it would mean they'd hacked it ages earlier and were hoping to lull someone into a false sense of security or make them run for their lives - to see who they ran to.

Now I read that the FBI could have accessed the contacts without the four digit code - friends who use Apple devices claim this too - but there was a need to access the data in a way that could stand up in court in a way that could refute any allegations that the data had been modified on the way.  I understand the chain of custody rules, appreciate that they are important, but dammit the perpetrators are long gone and most of the information could have been obtained through a subpoena to the terrorist's phone company anyway.

So I'm afraid we've all been treated to a smoke and mirrors charade.  The FBI almost certainly didn't need to access that phone per se, and I'm afraid I consider that Apple colluded in a stage managed way to assist the FBI, not impede it.  We'll probably never know, of course, because that's how the game is played. The FBI look like they're amateurs while they home in on the other terrorists and Apple look like they have the moral high ground. By the time we know more most of us will have forgotten this episode.

If you enjoy the concept of doublespeak and conspiracy theories you may want to consider The Journeymen (currently free) or the more tongue in cheek novel DLF, available through all good ebook retailers including Smashwords (which the links take you to).  Please note that due to Amazon rules beyond my control The Journeymen isn't free there, but rest assured an Amazon friendly copy can be downloaded from Smashwords.