Why can't the FBI unlock that iPhone?

IDG.TV | Feb 29, 2016

The current legal maelstrom between Apple and the FBI was started by the "Erase Data" feature. This is what would happen if Apple were to get rid of it.

Not even the FBI can unlock an iPhone -- and all because of a hidden security feature most people don’t even know about.

You probably have heard that the FBI wants to force Apple into breaking into the iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple’s response has been a resounding, “hell no” saying that it’s all about protecting our civil rights to privacy. And I know the FBI is not the most tech-savvy, but what is it about our iPhone that they just can’t figure it out on their own?

Turns out, it’s the Erase Data option that’s got the FBI all bent out of shape. If it’s enabled, all your iPhone data goes bye-bye after someone tries guessing your passcode more than 10 times.

So if the shooter’s iPhone has this setting enabled and the cops try guessing the passcode, they run the risk of deleting everything. Obviously, they would rather avoid manually typing in every passcode combination. Can you image the FBI sitting in a room trying to go through every passcode combo? 1-1-1-1... 1-1-1-2... 1-1-1-3. It would literally take them years.

The FBI says that they want Apple’s technical wizardry to bypass this security feature just on this iPhone and just this one time. But that’s not really how technology works. You create something once, but it can still go viral. And you can lock something up, but that lock-down can still be hacked hacked.

That’s exactly what the FBI is asking for, a hackable version of iOS that can be installed on any iPhone, even newer models. According to the New York Times, the NYPD already has 175 iPhones that they are eager to break into using this software.

Not only that, but the government could use this as a legal precedent to force Apple into doing other shady stuff for them, like recording our conversations or tapping into our location data or seeing how much of our unemployment check we spent on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Besides, do we really trust the FBI with this type of technology? Apple doesn’t even trust Apple with this type of technology, that’s why they haven’t developed it. So let’s say they do create this hackable iOS for the FBI, how long before this software falls into the wrong hands? Imagine, what would North Korea do with this type of technology? They would probably wipe your iPhone completely and install it with evil apps like Outlook, Bitmoji and that app for sending Lil Wayne rap lyrics.

Alternate ending: Clearly, this is a big deal with lots of moving parts and unforeseen consequences. But it’s interesting how Apple is standing up to the FBI and the Justice Department and saying how this iOS security feature is our god-given right.