The FBI and Apple will not get their day in court. At least not yet. The hearing over whether Apple must weaken the safeguards around its own encryption at the behest of the government — scheduled for Tuesday — was postponed by the Justice Department at the last minute. The FBI is now saying what tech experts have been saying all along: There may be a way to get into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter without forcing Apple to create a backdoor.
In the FBI vs. Apple battle over encryption, Apple's lawyers have said that the company will take this all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. The big question looming over the case is: What will Apple do if it loses before that court? The answer is that the company will obey the order, but its engineers may not.
As the FBI and Apple wage battle over the rights of private citizens to protect their data and communications by using encryption, both the FBI and the White House have said the FBI has “the full support" of the president. Last week, President Obama made that support clear in a speech in Texas.
The FBI said it had no choice but to seek a court order to force Apple to create a backdoor into the iOS platform. But there are some facts of this case that — when seen together — paint a clear picture of the FBI creating and exaggerating the problem it says it can't solve without a backdoor into the iPhone.
As the Apple/FBI case heats up, the surveillance hawks continue to insist that backdoors into the encryption that protects smartphones are necessary to address the threat of terrorists and other dangerous criminals “going dark.” But one of the most respected voices in computer security says that “solution” is more dangerous than the problem it proposes to solve.