U.S. law enforcement pushes for backdoor device access, Apple pushes back

The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have been meeting with security researchers in a push to establish backdoor access to encrypted devices, and Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi has pushed back, the New York Times reports.

Law enforcement officials have explored the possibility of having encrypted devices generate a special access key, which would be stored locally with encryption making it available to the manufacturer of the device, which could use it to open the device with a court order, according to the Times. The White House also reportedly circulated a memo on the topic among agencies in February.

“Proposals that involve giving the keys to customers’ device data to anyone but the customer inject new and dangerous weaknesses into product security,” Federighi responded in a statement published by the Times. “Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses or even manage vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems.”

The Department of Justice withdrew its legal attempt to force Apple to provide backdoor access to a terrorist’s locked iPhone in 2016 after contracting a third party to unlock it. Recently, police and FBI agents have used the biometrics of deceased individuals to attempt to gain access to smartphones.

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