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The Source: In FBI/Apple Fight, Where Are World Businesses?

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Despite having almost no part in the country's mobile phone market, Apple is the talk of Spain this week. The GSMA Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile technology exhibition and is in Barcelona this year. According to Victor Coccia from San Antonio-Based Vysk Communications, the FBI entreaties with Apple are all anyone is talking about. 

"All the major manufacturers and all the major telcos here and the market is asking for cell phone companies to give them more protection."

Apple CEO Tim Cook released an open letter to customers saying his company was under attack by the Department of Justice over their reluctance to create a backdoor into a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook.

Cook writes, the FBI wants far too much from Apple, and this is a time for a national dialog on the topic.

"Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession."

FBI director James Comey denies the mass exploitation of such a tool. In a letter to the public Comey writes the court order is actually very narrow, "We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly."

The American public is split on the issue with a slight majority favoring the Department of Justice's position, according to Pew.

Mobile technologists rally behind Apple and Tim Cook saying that the tool would make it easier for hackers and repressive governments. Additionally, form a business perspective, many worry about the damage to the reputation of the industry in a climate that demands more privacy. 

"[Apple] wouldn't have done it in the first place if it didn't make economic sense," says Vysk's Coccia. "Eventually what I think you'll see is Apple and Google fighting this fight to stay with this level of protection for their consumer," he continues.

Guest:

  • Victor Coccia, Founder of Vysk Communications, a mobile technology security company.
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive