I'll get in the iPhone for a fee. I know the information wouldn't be admissible in court, but at least they'll have the knowledge to see whats in the terrorist's iPhone. I would charge the FBI and want my criminal record completely wiped clean, and then we have a deal. I wont give you my name, but you are the FBI and can contact me in person if you want. The fee would be a little steep, tax free 300K... and the clean record, which is free for you. I would do it at home, in my own PC... I want immunity while I work, and don't need lessons on the laws I will break for national security. I don't want a job either, just this once I'll help you out... and no recognition please... I want to remain anonymous, or NO DEAL!!
"But technically speaking, disabling the anti-brute-force features isn't the same as creating a backdoor. And in any case, disabling those features may not even be possible on newer iPhones."
That's plain wrong. Apple needs to create a specific Firmware version in order to "stepping out of the way to let the FBI do its job", and they need to hand it over to them. First, this is exactly what we call a "backdoor". Second: what prevents the FBI from ripping this Firmware off of the phone, disassembling it and then using it on other cases, where they *don't* have a warrant?
"But the FBI isn't about to release this code into the wild" maybe not into the wild, but they will probably release it to other agencies.
No offense to your patriotism, but we know since Snowden that US Government agencies are not always benevolent and that they are often very willing to use every means possible to infringe on peoples privacy.
We don't need Apple handing them the tools to do so.
Apple's language, designed for a layman, may be a little imprecise. But it paints exactly the right picture. By allowing the FBI to remove the anti-hacking measures, they make the phone easily crackable. And in legal terms, once they've done it once, and it is a matter of record that this build of the software exists, than it can be easily and repeatedly asked for.
Today it's to "combat terrorism" (although these particular terrorists are already dead, and any information on the phone is weeks old); tomorrow it could be because you might have ordered soda in too large of a serving size. And that's just for the US. The second Apple agrees to do this for the US, every other government will demand the same tools, some which won't even pretend to have any valid reason.
I look forward to a day when our government can demonstrate that it will use extraordinary tools for extraordinary purposes only. Until then, the only safe policy is to not allow the tools to exist in the first place.
Paul, you are disregarding the main issue. Sure Apple can unlock this particular phone with modest effort. The greater issue is whether Apple can legally continue to manufacture devices containing strong encryption and no government backdoor. That is the issue Apple is fighting, and for the sake of all of us, I hope they win at the Supreme Court.
There is no legal reason to need the information that may be in the phone. But there is compelling security reaons to secure the contents. Soon pay by phone will be a norm in the US as it is and has been in many other countries. The public has more to fear form criminals than from terrorists.
I am sorry about the people that died in San Bernadino, there is a country of 323 million people sacrificing security of 94 million people with iphones will not stop terrorism, it will just make it worse because as soon as anyone finds out that it's hacked then they will use other means. If you want to stop terrorism then the US has to stop terrorizing middle east countries abroad.
My heart goes out to the victims of the San Bernardino massacre. But this is really dangerous for Apple to unlock the Farook's phone at the request of the law enforcement because in the future, this will set the precendent for future requests from law enforcement to break into any iphone. Hope Apple takes this all the way to Supreme Court and they win.