FBI Needs Apple’s Help to Unlock Terrorist’s Phone

The iPhone owned by one of the late San Bernardino murderers may have important information on it related to the terrorist attack. The FBI has not been able to unlock the phone since the December 2, 2015 shooting. Apple has been reluctant to cooperate owing to customers’ privacy issues. A federal just has now ordered Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance.” The FBI’s inability to break the phone’s security is a national disgrace.

Bloomberg reports, “The Justice Department wants Apple to provide customized software that will prevent the data on the phone from being deleted after 10 attempts to input the passcode. The software also must enable agents to send electronic passcodes to the phone, rather than manually typing them in, according to the application.

“The software will allow agents to automatically enter multiple passcodes to get around the encryption standards.”

In their application for the court order, the prosecutors wrote, “Apple has the ability to modify software that is created to only function within the subject device. Apple strictly and exclusively controls the hardware and software that is used to turn on and run its phones.”

Apple really should cooperate on this one. The concerns about privacy and protection of customer data clearly don’t apply to a terror attack wherein 14 people died and after which the owner of the phone was killed by authorities. The only people being harmed by unlocking the phone are those who damned well deserve being harmed.

Be that as it may, Apple’s help should not be necessary. If the US is to have the kind of anti-terrorism, anti-crime capabilties needed to keep its citizenry safe in the 21st century, it is vital that it be able to handle this kind of problem without calling Apple tech support.

The FBI claims that it has tried to hire hackers to work as special agents. It has to compete with all sorts of very lucrative offers from unsavory characters. However, there is another issue that the FBI admits creates issues in hiring hackers to take on this kind of work. Apparently, the code jockeys in question like to smoke or otherwise ingest marijuana.

FBI Director James Comey has said, “I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cybercriminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.” He added, “I don’t want young people to use marijuana. It’s against the law. I did not say that I’m going to change that ban. I said I have to grapple with the change in my workforce.” For the record, this journal takes a dim view of drug use without medical supervision, and this includes the use of alcohol and nicotine.

Given that recreational use of marijuana is now legal in four states, one must wonder just how much longer this particular hurdle will remain. The FBI is engaged in weapons-grade bureaucratic stupidity here anyway. It has already lost more than two months in this investigation because it can’t open an iPhone. While unlikely, the phone might have data that can lead to the disruption of another major attack on America. Yet the FBI would rather ensure that some kid doesn’t spark up. If another 9/11 can be prevented by a 22-year-old fully of Colombian sinsemilla, send him or her a kilo and bill this journal.

The FBI, and the DoD, and the rest of America’s security apparatus should focus on preventing the serious crimes that cause loss of life and property, not on some small time offense that at worst kills a few brain cells and keeps pizza delivery guys in business.