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Apple say it’s “impossible” to access private data on newer iPhones

Apple has made an official statement to a federal judge to confirm that it has no way of accessing data on a locked iPhone running iOS 8 or later. While it could technically help law enforcement agencies tap into older iOS devices, Apple reinstated its position that it would not do so unless absolutely legally obliged.

The encryption techniques used in iOS 8 and above are such that even if Apple wanted to, it would have no way to access data stored on the device. This is a move the company made to empower customers, and it gives it a valid reason to turn down government requests to help access customers’ private data.

More than 90% of iOS devices in the wild now run iOS 8 or above, and any of those devices protected with a passcode are supposedly “impossible” for Apple to crack. The company has continued to refuse to build in ‘back door’ access for the government – stating that any weakness in security would make customers’ data vulnerable to hackers – and CEO Tim Cook has been resolute in his belief that the ‘keys’ to the encryption should remain on the device itself rather than on Apple servers.

Apple is currently engaged in a court case where the Justice Department has asked for the company’s help in accessing information on an older iPhone – one that Apple could feasibly comply with if it wanted to. However, a statement from Apple’s lawyers says that “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.”

In related news, Apple has publicly opposed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) proposed by the U.S. government, stating that “the trust of our customers means everything to us and we don’t believe security should come at the expense of their privacy.”