The Slippery-Slope Edition Thursday, February 18, 2016

How Apple Will Fight The DOJ In iPhone Backdoor Crypto Case, by Cyrus Farivar and David Kravets, Ars Technica

First, Apple probably will argue that it is, in fact, removed from the case at hand and should not be forced to assist. "Long ago when Apple put that phone in its stream of commerce, it gave up any proprietary interests on that phone," she said.


Bridy also added that Apple will likely argue that being compelled to create new specialized software is, in fact, burdensome. That’s quite different from pen registers in New York Telephone, which, according to the Supreme Court, the telco "regularly employs such devices without court order for the purposes of checking billing operations, detecting fraud, and preventing violations of law."

White House Plays With Words, Says Department Of Justice Isn’t Asking Apple To Create A Backdoor, by Romain Dillet, TechCrunch

The entire point of Cook’s letter is that this case is a slippery slope.

Why The FBI's Request To Apple Will Affect Civil Rights For A Generation, by Rich Mogull, Macworld

What matters is if we have a right to the security and privacy of our devices, and of our communications, which are also under assault. If we have the right to tools to defend ourselves from the government and criminals alike. Yes, these tools will be sometimes used for the worst of crimes, but they’re also fundamental to our civil rights, freedom of discourse, and our ability to protect our digital lives from the less impactful, but far more frequent criminal attacks.

This situation was engineered by the FBI and Department of Justice for the maximum impact and chances of success. Apple is fighting, and as a security professional it’s my obligation to support their position, and stronger security.

Why Tim Cook Is Right To Call Court-ordered iPhone Hack A “Backdoor”, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

It would be one thing for the court to order Apple to brute force this one device and turn over the data stored on it. It's altogether something else to require that Apple turn over powerful exploit software and claim that whatever digital locks are included can't be undone by a determined adversary. That's why it's no exaggeration for Cook to call Tuesday's order chilling and to warn that its prospects for abuse of such a backdoor are high.

Why Tim Cook Is Wrong: A Privacy Advocate's View, by Trevor Pott, The Register

If it is known that Apple's phones can, in fact, be attacked in this fashion then the pressure is on to create devices which cannot be attacked in this fashion. Apple can only turn over the data if it is actually possible to do so. If it isn't, then the judge can make all the orders they want, but they can't alter reality with a gavel.

The Optics Of Apple’s Encryption Fight, by Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

If Cook’s intervention gets a swath of the public curious about the encryption that protects their own data from hackers and criminals, the government could end up looking overeager to find ways of accessing private information. But Apple may have a hard time going at it alone.

Apple Vs. The FBI, by Will Oremus, Slate

But a controversy can help Apple differentiate its products on privacy grounds. The more heinous the crimes of the iPhone user that Apple is protecting, the more it underscores the inviolability of the company’s commitment to privacy and security. Viewed in that light, Google’s silence on Wednesday is the best outcome Apple could have hoped for.

You may think that this is an overly cynical reading of Cook’s evidently genuine defense of Apple’s right to provide its users with ironclad security. I don’t see it that way. I think Cook believes and means what he’s saying. I also think he’s fortunate to run a company whose business interests, on this particular issue, align with his convictions. Because the next time privacy activists hold a big rally, they’re going to do it in front of their local Apple Store.

Coalition Of Big Tech Companies Backs Apple In FBI Back Door Fight (Ever So Slightly), by Mark Bergen, Re/code

The group said in a statement that tech companies should “not be required to build” back doors to user information, but then notes that companies are obliged to balance user privacy with the need to cooperate with law enforcement. The statement does not mention Apple nor its CEO Tim Cook.

The careful wording is consistent with the statement released Wednesday afternoon from Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the only high-profile tech exec to issue public remarks.

Apple’s Stance Highlights A More Confrontational Tech Industry, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

Yet it’s worth noting that even if Apple ultimately loses this case, it has plenty of technical means to close a backdoor over time. “If they’re anywhere near worth their salt as engineers, I bet they’re rethinking their threat model as we speak,” said Jonathan Zdziarski, a digital forensic expert who studies the iPhone and its vulnerabilities.

Regular Programming

Apple Focuses On 3D Touch, Live Photos In Latest iPhone 6s Ads, by AppleInsider

Apple on Wednesday released a pair of iPhone commercials touting the time-saving benefits of 3D Touch and the new Live Photos image format, two features exclusive to the company's latest generation iPhone 6s handsets.

Apple And Fashion: A Love Story For The Digital Ages, by Rob Haskell, Vogue

“In what we do,” observes Cook, “design is crucial, as it is in fashion.”


How I Use Siri To Assist My Life, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

Apple shipped Siri in 2011 as the built-in personal assistant for iPhone. Since then, Siri has spread to iPad, Apple Watch, and most recently, Apple TV. It's also spread through my life. Even with its Pixar-like personality and ever increasing skill set, I'm surprised surprising how much.

Skype Launches 25-Person Group Video Calling On iOS And Android, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

The new feature will allow as many as 25 participants in a single Skype video chat, with 1080p video quality, and access to both front and back cameras.

ComicBlitz Now Has An iPhone App, by Michael Kozlowski, Good E-Reader

The service offers more than 3,000 comics from 17 publishers, such as Dynamite, Valiant, Aspen, Action Lab, Zenescope and Alterna. Darby Pop, Markosia, TPub and children’s publisher Capstone are all now available as well.

Review: Mophie's Latest Powerstation Batteries Pack Power And App Integration Into A Slim Design, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

And as usual, the design of the latest Powerstation lineup is great, with a solid aluminum body that's slim enough to easily fit the smaller ones in a pocket and the larger ones in a purse or skinny computer bag. That said, the Powerstation lineup is quite expensive compared to some other options on the market, so you may want to take that into consideration when making your purchasing decision.

LINE's Foodie Camera Will Help Make Your Food Photos Great, by Joseph Keller, iMore

Foodie is meant to help you share great shots of your meals, providing a number of filters to make your food look more appetizing.


Apple Now Supports Video App Previews For tvOS, by iClarified

To capture footage of your tvOS app, connect your Apple TV to your Mac using a USB-C to USB cable, and use QuickTime Player as a video recorder.

How To Get Hired At A Startup When You Don't Know Anyone, by Shane Engineer


Appeals Court Says Apple’s Settlement In E-book Price-fixing Case Can Stand, by Megan Geuss, Ars Technica

Objector-Appellant John Bradley, a consumer who purchased e-books, appealed the District Court’s decision to approve the $450 million settlement that Apple agreed to. Bradley challenged "the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the Settlement,” arguing that Apple should pay more for its alleged role in the scheme.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, however, saying that the District Court was right in deciding that $450 million was a reasonable amount.

Apple Joins With China's UnionPay To Introduce Mobile Payments, by Bloomberg

Customers of 19 lenders, including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., will be able to use Apple Pay through UnionPay’s point-of-sales network across the country, UnionPay said Thursday in a statement. Users can sign up by adding their bank card information into the Wallet application on Apple devices, the Shanghai-based company said.

Where Your iPhone Goes To Die (And Be Reborn), by Tim Culpan, Bloomberg

At a dedicated factory with 24-hour security in an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, iPhones are being carefully and meticulously destroyed.

The plant is one of a handful around the world, chosen by Apple Inc. to grind up and recycle its iconic phones. And just as the companies that manufacture the handsets are subject to strict standards and secrecy, the same applies in reverse for their disassembly, right down to weighing the shreds, to make sure nothing is lost.

Yahoo Closes Online Magazines, A Costly Experiment By Marissa Mayer, by Vindu Goel, New York Times

Marissa Mayer, the embattled chief executive of Yahoo, is gutting one of her signature projects: A cluster of digital magazines devoted to topics like food, autos, real estate, travel and technology.

Bottom of the Page

I wonder if the sales of iPads-without-Touch-ID will plummet in the next few weeks. (The two models are iPad Air 1 and iPad Mini 2.)

I wonder if Apple will accelerate its plan to put Touch ID on Macs. (And maybe even TVs.)

I wonder if shut-down-and-move-the-whole-company-to-Canada is a possibility in Tim Cook's plan. (Buy Blackberry?)


Thanks for reading.