Apple has claimed that it is impossible to access data on a locked iPhone running the latest iOS8 or 9 software. The statement came from a briefing last week after Brooklyn federal magistrate judge James Orenstein asked for the companies input. The US department of justice has tried to force the company to help prosecutors access data on an iPhone seized as part of an investigation but Apple are reluctant to do so.
They cite the introduction of strengthened encryption methods back in June 2014 for their inability to access data. The heightened security was introduced amid privacy concerns following leaks on surveillance programs by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. iPhones running on the newer operating systems have a feature that prevents anyone accessing data on a device without the pass code, Apple itself included. Apple told the judge that only the 10 per cent of devices still using older operating systems could be accessed, so the firm does have the technical ability help police unlock older phones. The iPhone mentioned in the investigation is actually an older phone but so far Apple has resisted helping the authorities and has instead urged the judge not to require it to comply with the Justice Department’s request. ‘Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand,’ the companies lawyers wrote.
Previously, Judge Orenstein said he was unsure whether he could force Apple to disable security on the phone, due to Congress' failure to act on the issue of encryption. He wanted to hear from the company itself on if it was technically possible and if carried out would be ‘unduly burdensome’. A hearing is expected soon and Apple will be told if it has to help with the case.
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