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Snowden Thinks the FBI Should Disclose Its Unlocking Method to Apple

The whistleblower voiced his opinion during a virtual debate held towards the end of last month
May 2, 2016

Edward Snowden has weighed-in on the controversial Apple vs. FBI case, which, as I’m sure you remember, revolved around the company’s refusal to unlock an iPhone handset that the FBI eventually managed to crack (with help, we might add, from friends). In short, Snowden thinks the FBI should disclose its method to Apple: something the bureau has so far refused to do.

VentureBeat has the report, and explains that Snowden made his comment during a debate in New York against the CNN host Fareed Zakaria. Snowden appeared virtually via a Google Hangout, presumably from somewhere in Russia (where he’s been granted a three-year period of asylum), but nevertheless offered his opinion on the Apple-FBI situation when questioned by an audience member.

He said:

One of the points that was raised by Mr. Zakaria earlier was that he said, well, you know, Apple hasn’t really made any response, they haven’t made any stink, in response to this. Now, in fact, they have. They’ve challenged the FBI, I believe in court, where they’ve tried to get them to compel, or it may have simply been through internal processes before they get to court, to get the FBI to disclose the vulnerability that was used to get into this phone, so that they could close it, so that they could protect the millions of Americans who are using these kind of devices. And I think that is proper. When the FBI finds a case that is so exceptional that they have to break the security of the device to get in it, it merits these kinds of exceptional circumstances, they should try to do that. At the same time, they should make sure they close the door behind them, so that the rest of us, whether we work at UNICEF or whether we work at Starbucks, are safe and don’t face the same threats tomorrow.

Though we’ve previously heard that Apple isn’t going to sue in order to find out how the FBI unlocked the San Bernardino iPhone, countless individuals have nevertheless called for such a move in the interest of public security. It indeed seems the FBI used a team of “pro hackers” in order to get into the handset, and the method uncovered is apparently not compatible with later-generation models, like the iPhone 5s, 6, or 6s. But this doesn’t mean the situation at hand is a non-issue.

Instead, as Snowden notes, “millions of Americans” are still using the iPhone 5c model the FBI managed to break into. As such, the full disclosure of its method would mean the FBI is protecting this demographic of Apple customers; at present, they’re still at risk.

Of course, we’ll keep you posted with further information as we receive it.