The Government Wants Apple To Turn Over The iOS Source Code So It Can Spy On Any iPhone – Huffington Post
ODDS OF SUCCESS UNCLEAR
There is little clarity on whether a government demand for source code would succeed.
Perhaps the closest parallel was in a case filed by federal prosecutors against Lavabit LLC, a privacy-oriented email service used by Edward Snowden. In trying to recover Snowdenâ€™s unencrypted mail from the company, which did not keep Snowdenâ€™s cryptographic key, the Justice Department got a court order forcing the company to turn over another key instead, one that would allow officials to impersonate the companyâ€™s website and intercept all interactions with its users.
â€œLavabit must provide any and all information necessary to decrypt the content, including, but not limited to public and private keys and algorithms,â€ the lower court ruled.
Lavabit shut down rather than comply. But company lawyer Jesse Binnall said the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower ruling, did so on procedural grounds, so that the Justice Departmentâ€™s win would not influence much elsewhere.
In any case, full source code would be even more valuable than the traffic key in the Lavabit case, and the industry would go to extreme lengths to fight for it, Binnall said.
â€œThat really is the keys to the kingdom,â€ Binnall said.
Source code is sometimes inspected during lawsuits over intellectual property, and the Justice Department noted that Apple won permission to review some of rival Samsung’s code in one such case. In that case and similar battles, the code is produced with strict rules to prevent copying.
No cases brought by the government have led to that sort of code production, or at least none that have come to light.
But intelligence agencies operate under different rules and have wide latitude overseas. Some advanced espionage programs attributed to the United States used digital certificates that were stolen from Taiwanese companies, though not full programs.
U.S. software code may have been sought in other cases, such as investigations relying on the Patriot Act or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which applies within American borders.
Several people who have argued before the special FISA court or are familiar with some of its cases say they know of no time that the government has sought source code.
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