The Formal-Legal-Response Edition Friday, February 26, 2016

Apple Tells Court It Would Have To Create “GovtOS” To Comply With Ruling, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

On Thursday, Apple filed its formal legal response to the standoff between it and the Department of Justice.


Theodore Boutrous, an Apple lawyer, wrote: "Apple is a private company that does not own or possess the phone at issue, has no connection to the data that may or may not exist on the phone, and is not related in any way to the events giving rise to the investigation. This case is nothing like New York Telephone Co., where there was probable cause to believe that the phone company’s own facilities were 'being employed to facilitate a criminal enterprise on a continuing basis.'"


In its court filing, Apple also argues that the government’s interpretation of the All Writs Act goes too far, fails the previous Supreme Court three-part test, and violates Apple’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.

Apple Says iPhone Tech The U.S. Wants Will Be Slow And Costly To Build, by Dina Bass and Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg

In addition to the six to 10 engineers and as long as four weeks of work to create new code in a “hypersecure isolation room,” the company said it would require multiple stages of testing, quality assurance, potentially re-coding, documentation -- then deploying the new operating system on the device at an Apple facility and supervising the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of the system.


Then there’s the question of what would happen with the software once it has been used. Apple would have a choice: destroy the code and be ready to re-create it -- at a similar expense of resources and time -- in the event of similar investigations in the future, or hold onto it and defend the highly sensitive code against potential attacks from hackers or governments. Neither option is attractive. And by Apple’s account, the destruction of the code would be nearly impossible, especially given that it would have to preserve some documentation of its creation for use in any future legal proceedings.

In Apple Case, Addressing The Legal Status Of Code, by Steve Lohr, New York Times

Apple elaborates on that essential notion by saying that its code is expressing its corporate viewpoint on consumer security and privacy. If it loses this case, Apple suggests, the company would be forced to have its code change its digital tune – and corporate message.

“Apple goes pretty far by saying its software has a viewpoint,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law. “That’s pretty novel here. But this case is unprecedented, so we shouldn’t be surprised by novel defenses.”

Tech Companies To Unite In Support Of Apple, by Deepa Seetharaman and Jack Nicas, Wall Street Journal

Several tech companies, including Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., plan to file a joint motion supporting Apple Inc. in its court fight against the Justice Department over unlocking an alleged terrorist’s iPhone, according to people familiar with the companies’ plans.

At least one other tech company plans to be included in a joint amicus brief next week generally supporting Apple’s position that unlocking the iPhone would undermine tech firms’ efforts to protect their users’ digital security, these people said. Twitter Inc. also plans to support Apple in a motion, though it is unclear if it will join the combined filing, another person familiar said.

Apple Fight Puts Obama In A Bind, by Cory Bennett, The Hill

“On the one hand, they don’t want to be seen as opposing the FBI in a major terrorism case,” he said. “But on the other hand, they don’t want to go out and give more ammunition to the idea that they’re selling out privacy.”

“They’re caught in a bind.”

Obama Administration, FBI Must Act To Restore US Government's Credibility In Apple's Encryption Debate, by Daniel Eran Dilger, AppleInsider

And if the U.S. can achieve its goals via a court order, clearly any other country Apple does business in can also demand access to the same capabilities, without even needing to establish any sort of democratically-originated legal basis in law.

That alone is reason enough for Comey to immediately dial down the FBI's rhetoric and withdraw the demands for a back door from Apple, made without the consultation of Congress having the opportunity to fully debate the issues involved without the fervent, rushed emotionalism this public smear campaign is attempting to leverage.

The UK's Proposed Spy Law Would Force Apple To Secretly Hack Its Phones Too, by Danny O'Brien, Electronic Frontier Foundation

The newly proposed British spying law, the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB), already includes methods that would permit the British government to order companies like Apple to re-engineer their own technology, just as the FBI is demanding. Worse, if the law passes, each of these methods would be accompanied by a gag order.

Click Further

Apple Changed Its Site’s Code So The Word “Click” Doesn’t Look Like…, by Josh Constine, TechCrunch

If you squint, you can see how the word “click” might look inappropriate. But Apple’s too prim and proper for that. So when it wanted the tagline for its new desktop operating system El Capitan to be “There’s more to love with every click”, it made a tiny, hilarious tweak to its website’s CSS code.

Thank You

Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt, by Howard Berkes, NPR

"We honor [the Challenger astronauts] not through bearing the burden of their loss, but by constantly reminding each other to remain vigilant," the statement read. "And to listen to those like Mr. Ebeling who have the courage to speak up so that our astronauts can safely carry out their missions."

After hearing that, Ebeling clapped long and hard, and shouted, "Bravo!"


Snapheal For Mac OS X Lets You Have Fun Repairing And Enhancing Photos, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Macphun's Snapheal, a photo app for Mac OS X, is functional, practical and fun. It performs complex image edits, object cloning, removals and more -- and does them quickly.

Office 365 Gets A Load Of Fresh Features Across Windows, Mac And Mobile, by Darren Allan, TechRadar

Microsoft has been busy beavering away with Office 365 this month, and has just published a blog post detailing the changes to the online suite in February, with work having been done on the desktop (Windows and Mac) software along with mobile apps.

New App Pearl Guides Users To Restaurants Serving Oysters, by Matthew Odam, Austin360

The longtime seafood lover, who was raised on the East Coast and has several family members in Austin, left his world in finance to start Pearl, an app that educates users on the wide array of oysters and shows them where to find the bivalves at restaurants in more than a half dozen cities in America.


Apple Rolls Out Redesigned Payments And Financial Reports View In iTunes Connect For Developers, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is rolling out a small but useful improvement to developers today. It has overhauled the Payments and Financial Reports section of iTunes Connect with a modern interface and new design that combines all relevant financial numbers into one table. This screen was long overdue for a redesign, until today featuring ugly iOS 5 era buttons and textured backgrounds. The new look reflects Apple’s modern design philosophy: flat, white and clean.

With The Apple Newsstand Gone, Some PDF-based App Publishing Platforms Will Likely Call It Quits, by D.B. Hebbard, Talking New Media

“We’re proud that we have been able to help so many people build great magazine apps,” said Len Wright of Appzine Machine, “but Apple’s decision to shutdown the Apple Newsstand, coupled with the lack of capital and resources we needed to adapt to these changes ultimately has forced our hands to shut the company down.”


Government Enlists Tech Giants To Fight ISIS Messaging, by Jim Acosta, CNN

At a meeting conducted at the Justice Department on Wednesday, executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and MTV offered their input to top counter intelligence officials, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting. A listing of private companies that attended also included Buzzfeed, though the company later said its representation was limited to a reporter and not a meeting participant.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Wants Tim Cook’s Help Fighting A Georgia Bill That Could Discriminate Against Gays, by Eugene Kim, Business Insider

Benioff, well-known for his social activism, has already helped successfully turn over a similar bill in Indiana last year. At the time, a number of tech companies, including Apple, joined Benioff to fight the cause, and now he wants Cook’s support again.

This Hacked Together 118 GB Floppy Disk Is Just Too Brilliant, by Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics

If you haven't guessed already, that's not a typical disk or a typical drive. Instead of the little pancake of magnetic tape that most floppy disks have inside, thess disks are actually just mostly empty pieces of plastic that have been modified to fit normal SD cards.

Rumor Of The Day

Apple To Launch 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Not Air 3; Smart Keyboard & Apple Pencil Support Likely, by Mark Gurman, 9to5Mac

Apple will further differentiate the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad from its predecessor by making it part of the new iPad Pro line, according to sources. Much like the MacBook Pro comes in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, the iPad Pro will soon come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch variations. This trend follows Apple not calling its 12-inch MacBook a new Air despite developing the product as an apparent successor to the MacBook Air.

Bottom of the Page

I do wish that, just like the MacBook, iPhone, and Apple Watch, there is a line of computers simply called Macintosh, and a line of tablet computers simply called iPad. No modifiers.


Thanks for reading.