TAMPA, Fla. -- Apple’s newest security patch could put the iPhone maker at odds with law enforcement again.
You might remember after a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, the FBI wanted Apple’s help to hack into one of the suspects’ phones.
Apple resisted, citing privacy issues.
Now, a new software update could give users more privacy, but leave cops with less time to work with.
For someone like Meisha Abbott, who loses her phone more often than she’d like to admit, anything that could keep someone from getting at the data on her iPhone is a good thing.
“And I’ve lost a lot of information.” said Abbott. “Who knows what’s floating around out there!”
For Apple and its customers, it might seem simple enough. The goal is to keep the private info on our phones private.
“I have work email on my phone,” said iPhone user Myra Ramos. “Just things that other people shouldn’t be getting into.”
Ritaban Sengupta doesn’t feel like his info is all that secure anyway.
“All of the data that I have, Apple already has. Or Google already has at this moment,” he said, “We’re trying to secure our data all the time, but you really don’t know how much you can secure it.”
Apple’s software update will affect the iPhone’s Lightning Port, disabling the ability to transfer data after the phone’s been locked for one hour.
That’s great for stopping hackers, but not so good for law enforcement officials who sometimes find tips, contacts and clues on criminals’ phones.
“There’s always a fine line between privacy and the needs of law enforcement,” said David Herbert, who spent 23 years as an FBI investigator.
Herbert says now as a civilian, he can appreciate the whole privacy thing. But in law enforcement, he says, minutes matter. Say, for example, in the case of an abduction, or someone trying to leave the state.
“Maybe you would’ve had access to texts this guy had with somebody else,” said Herbert. “'I’m heading up to Georgia this afternoon, blah blah blah,' and now you don’t have access to that. So that limits the leads law enforcement would have right there at their fingertips.
In a statement, Apple has said none of its software updates are meant to thwart legitimate law-enforcement activity. But the company says in an age of hacking and identity theft, they have to do what they can to protect their customers.
Look for the software update sometime this fall.
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