So I’ve been intrigued by this news story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35594245
On the face of it, Apple “could” write a backdoor to access a known killers iPhone, however with this backdoor software they would have the capabilities to access any phone in their possession.
So I don’t understand Apple’s problem.
The US (and other authorities) have exceeded reasonable surveillance levels on the general public by using a catch-all monitoring system on public communications. This is wrong, completely wrong and any state that has conducted its surveillance in this manner has done so against all human and moral code.
So Apple and other tech companies have correctly sought to re-address the balance by building strong encryption into their products and services.
Now in the case of the San Bernardino gunman, his guilt is unquestioned and the authorities are quite correctly accessing every other part of this persons life (including searching his home, accessing his bank and phone records etc…). So they are quite correct to seek access to his iPhone.
It also appears that the back door method they are proposing is viable and Apple could probably comply (at a technical level). So if we take this case in isolation, then their should be no question of Apple complying.
I presume the problem Apple face is that if they build this back door, it could be used generically in the future in less clear cut circumstances, it could even be applied to the catch-all monitoring system the US are using to spy on the world.
However, their is an option, which is to write a one time use, self destructing code, which would unlock one phone and immediately erase itself. This would force any authority to commission Apple to write the code from scratch each time they wished to use it, giving both transparency and a public court tested justification to each case.
I am absolutely against any state authority believing they have a right to spy on the population as a whole without just cause, but in this specific case, there is an absolute justification to gain access to the killers iPhone, which it appears Apple could facilitate.
Perhaps a self destructing code could be the method to placate both sides.