In Apple vs FBI Case, Compromise Appears Elusive

In Apple vs FBI Case, Compromise Appears Elusive

As Apple’s legal battle with the FBI over encryption heads toward a showdown, there appears little hope for a compromise that would placate both sides and avert a divisive court decision.

The FBI is pressing Apple to develop a system that would allow the law enforcement agency to break into a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, a demand the tech company claims would make all its devices vulnerable.

In an effort to break the deadlock, some US lawmakers are pushing for a panel of experts to study the issue of access to encrypted devices for law enforcement in order to find common ground.

Senator Mark Warner and Representative Mike McCaul on Monday proposed the creation of a 16-member “National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges.”

But digital rights activists warn that the issue provides little middle ground – that once law enforcement gains a “back door,” there would be no way to close it.

“We are concerned that the commission may focus on short-sighted solutions involving mandated or compelled back doors,” said Joseph Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

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“Make no mistake, there can be no compromise on back doors. Strong encryption makes anyone who has a cell phone or who uses the Internet far more secure.”

Kevin Bankston of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute expressed similar concerns.

“We’ve already had a wide range of blue ribbon expert panels consider the issue,” he said.

“And all have concluded either that surveillance back doors are a dangerously bad idea, that law enforcement’s concerns about ‘going dark’ are overblown, or both.”

The debate had been simmering for years before the Apple-FBI row.

Last year, a panel led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists warned against “special access” for law enforcement, saying they pose “grave security risks” and “imperil innovation.”

Opening up all data
“I’m not sure there is much room for compromise from a technical perspective,” said Stephen Wicker, a Cornell University professor of computer engineering who specializes in mobile computing security.

Opening the door to the FBI effectively makes any data on any mobile device available to the government, he said.

“This is data that was not available anywhere 10 years ago, it’s a function of the smartphone,” Wicker said.

“We as a country have to ask if we want to say that anything outside our personal human memory should be available to the federal government.”

Apple has indicated it is ready for a “conversation” with law enforcement on the matter.

But FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel that some answers are needed because “there are times when law enforcement saves our lives, rescues our children.”

Asked about the rights envisioned by the framers of the US constitution, he said, “I also doubt that they imagined there would be any place in American life where law enforcement, with lawful authority, could not go.”

A brief filed on behalf of law enforcement associations argued that because of Apple’s new encryption, criminals “have now switched to the new iPhones as the device of choice for their criminal wrongdoing.”

Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes major technology firms but not Apple, said that although tech firms and law enforcement have had many battles, “there are many areas where we cooperate and where we find middle ground.”

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But Black said the tech sector is largely united in this case because the FBI wants Apple to create weaker software or introduce “malware” to be able to crack the locked iPhone.

“On this narrow specific issue of ‘can companies be compelled to create malware,’ I think there may not be an answer,” he said.

‘Going dark’ fears
Law enforcement fears about “going dark” in the face of new technology have been largely exaggerated, Black said.

While access to encrypted apps and smartphones is difficult and traditional wiretaps don’t work on new technology, “there are a lot of other tools for law enforcement,” he said.

“There is more information available in 2016 than in any year since the founding of the country.”

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Although law enforcement has growing expectations about using technology to thwart criminals, that type of power is too broad, Black added.

“If they are seeking a level of total surveillance capability, I don’t see a compromise available,” he said.

Wicker said that to give law enforcement access, Congress could in theory mandate that devices use automatic cloud backups that could not be disabled. But that would constitute a dramatic departure from current views about privacy.

“From an individual rights standpoint,” he said, “that would take away control by the user of their personal information.”


India vs Sri Lanka: Boys in Blue aim to bolster credentials ahead of World T20

India vs Sri Lanka: Boys in Blue aim to bolster credentials ahead of World T20
Photo Credit: Craig Golding/AFP
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After the convincing 3-0 win in last month’s Twenty20 series in Australia, the home series against Sri Lanka that starts on Tuesday must seem like a mere formality for an Indian side high on confidence. However, if history suggests anything at all, this series will be anything but a stroll for the home side.

India have a 3-3 record against Sri Lanka in this format, but it is their World Cup record against the islanders that will prove worrisome for MS Dhoni’s men. Rewind to the 2014 World T20 final – it was Lasith Malinga’s men who broke their final hoodoo to triumph over Dhoni’s boys in Dhaka.

The Indians did not fare much better in the 2010 World T20 when they succumbed to a last-ball finish in Gros Islet, St. Lucia in a group stage match. Being played a mere month before the World T20, this series against the world’s No 3 T20 side is a good chance for the home side to prove their title credentials, especially considering that they have been drafted into a tough group alongside Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan.

For one man in particular, this series will be more about redemption than anything else. Yuvraj Singh endured a horror show against the Lankans in the 2014 final, eking out a 21-ball 11 during the most crucial part of the innings, leading to India sub-par total.

Back in the squad and having had a fairly decent series against Australia, the Punjab left-hander will look to settle scores once and for all. The 33-year-old looks like he has got a new lease of life but he will still have to perform to retain hopes of getting into the final World Cup T20 squad. Fail to do so, and no doubt, the vultures will start circling again.

Finding the right combination

India’s best player in Australia, Virat Kohli, has been given a well-deserved rest. This will give captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni the chance to tinker with his middle-order to find his best combination. Although Suresh Raina, Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Dhoni pick themselves in the squad based on past exploits and current form, India’s middle order still remains a worry with the finisher’s positions – numbers five, six and seven far from settled.

Shikhar Dhawan for one will be looking to cement his place in the final XI for the World Twenty20. The opener has had an up-and-down season so far. With Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and new boy Hardik Pandya all jostling for places, the competition is fierce.

Pawan Negi, the 23-year-old rookie who was selected for this series in place of Kohli, must be feeling confident after being sold for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore at the Indian Premier League auction on Saturday. Negi did well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, where he scored 173 runs for Delhi and bagged six wickets in nine matches. Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Man and Umesh Yadav miss out, while Manish Pandey and Bhuvneshwar Kumar get a look in.

A return of two veterans

This will also be an intriguing tale of two returning 36-year-old pacers. While Ashish Nehra played all the three T20 matches against Australia, Dilhara Fernando will return to the Sri Lankan squad after almost two years on the back of his performances in the domestic Premier T20 tournament. Fernando finished as the third highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.40.

His experience will be key considering that Malinga and Mathews are out owing to injuries and the Lankans just lost a recent T20 series to New Zealand 2-0. Leading the side in Malinga’s absence will be Dinesh Chandimal. An injury to Tillakaratne Dilshan also means that wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been called up to the squad and most probably will play the first match.

One player to watch out for will be middle-order batsman Dasun Shanaka, who set the domestic T20 tournament alight with his performances. Spinner Ajantha Mendis still does not find a place despite a good show with the ball (12 wickets) in the same tournament.

In comparison with the World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup thereafter, this may look like a low-key series. But, Dhoni will not mind – it gives him an opportunity to play around with his team and figure out his winning combination. In many ways, this will be the perfect starter for the delectable main course that is coming up next month.