No Real Cause for Apple-FBI War: NSA Has All the Data
Considering that all the cellular networks in the US are connected to the National Security Agency (NSA) via what is called Lawful Interception Interface, it is hard to understand why top FBI officials and Apple executives are fighting over breaking the encryption of a terrorist’s iPhone.
Endless streams of data, including e-mail, pictures and text messages, are secretly siphoned out of all US communication providers into the NSA database. All that FBI investigators need to do in order to access the iPhone calls made by the San Bernadino killers Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik is to find the time to meet with their NSA counterparts. The data they need for their investigation is already stored at NSA headquarters in Maryland.
Therefore, it stands to reason that other issues lie behind the battle between Apple and the FBI.
DEBKA Weekly sheds light on some of them.
1. For FBI head James Comey, litigation is a no-win course because both parties tend to lose in such cases. His organization will not obtain by compulsion the concessions that should have been available through willing cooperation. But he can’t afford to be seen backing down at this point.
2. The vast Apple enterprise can survive a lengthy legal battle with law enforcement authorities. Its directors could have met the FBI halfway had they wanted to settle, but the clamorous publicity surrounding the case is good for the company.
3. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s claim that the company can’t break the encryption code of the private iPhone is not credible. With the right motivation, the company could come up with the resources for developing the necessary program.
4. Apple enjoys the backing of thousands of tech companies, which are basking in its popular image as the defender of individual clients against the might of federal government.
5. The iPhone battle is just the tip of a spreading iceberg. A back door to private phones is sought not just by the FBI, but also by fellow intelligence and security agencies, police and law enforcement organizations, prison services and investigative authorities dealing with taxation, immigration and other spheres.
6. Some sort of compromise is bound to emerge from dragging Apple into court, whether in the form of a judicial ruling or legislation.
7. Apple is meanwhile raking it in from the controversy. After a period of plummeting profits and market inroads by cellular phones with less friendly android operating systems, the company has rebounded on the image of a “Robin Hood,” who stands firm in defense of the ordinary citizen’s private data against a government grab.
In short, the clash is less about the citizen’s right to privacy than a contest of professional pride between two giants. The ultimate winner will be a third, the NSA which is standing by with a solution.