Apple echoes past security stance, telling judge ‘it’s impossible’ to unlock iPhones running iOS 8 or later

Late Monday, Apple filed a brief with a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York, reiterating its inability to unlock its devices. As it has before, the company told the judge that accessing data stored on a locked device running iOS 8 or later is technically impossible, due to strengthened encryption methods.

“In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform. For devices running iOS 8 or higher, Apple would not have the technical ability to do what the government requests—take possession of a password protected device from the government and extract unencrypted user data from that device for the government. Among the security features in iOS 8 is a feature that prevents anyone without the device’s passcode from accessing the device’s encrypted data. This includes Apple.”
Judge James Orenstein’s inquiry is the result of a request from the U.S. Justice Department to force Apple to help authorities access a seized iPhone. Earlier this month, Orenstein expressed skepticism about whether he could demand such an act from the company, citing Congress’ failure to act on the issue of encryption.

Apple added in the briefing that out of the millions of devices out there in the wild running iOS, 90 percent of them are running iOS 8 or a newer version of the platform. Apple did admit that it could, if necessary, access that remaining ten percent of devices that aren’t running the newer software, but doing so could potentially ruin Apple’s brand over time.

This is certainly not the first time that Apple’s encryption methods and security plans have come under fire. The FBI’s director, James Comey has expressed his own disdain for Apple’s tactics, and even the United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, has raised concerns over the lack of accessibility in Apple’s mobile devices. 

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