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Apple denies NSA back-door, confirms gag order

Apple denies NSA back-door, confirms gag order

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has denied rumours that there is an NSA-sponsored back door in his company's code, but admits he is hampered by a formal gagging order.

Apple has denied claims that its software comes with a built-in back-door at the request of the National Security Agency (NSA), but admits that it operates under a gagging order that prevents it from revealing too much about its work with the spook outfit.

Rumours of NSA back-doors in commercial software have long been the stuff of legend, but leaks of internal NSA documentation by Edward Snowden have suggested that they're very much factual. The NSA's involvement in ensuring it can access things its subjects might not want accessed range from encouraging - financially, in some cases - security software vendors to adopt insecure random number generation algorithms to the taxpayer-funded security analysis of commercial software with a view to finding holes and not telling the vendor of the problem, to keep the access route open for as long as possible.

It is also suggested that the NSA has a more direct hand in reducing the functional security of products, forcing US-based manufacturers to place back-doors into their software and hardware specifically for NSA use. Microsoft has long been accused of working with the NSA on this - something the company, naturally, denies while admitting that the NSA has helped the company develop security-related portions of the Windows operating system - and on the 30th anniversary of the Mac it's now Apple's turn.

'There is no back door. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that — and that just will not happen,' Apple's chief executive Tim Cook told ABC News of the rumour. 'We feel that strongly about it.'

Cook did admit, however, that the company is under a US government gagging order which prevents it from detailing how it does work with the NSA to monitor its customers. 'From my point of view, number one, we need to be significantly more transparent. We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected. We need to be clear and we have a gag order on us right now, and so, we can’t say those things.'

Cook has pledged to make a formal request to President Barack Obama to be allowed more transparency in his company's dealings with the NSA and other governmental authorities.

9 Comments

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Spreadie 27th January 2014, 14:24 Quote
Quote:
Cook did admit, however, that the company is under a US government gagging order which prevents it from detailing how it does work with the NSA to monitor its customers.
So, no back door in place, they just collate all the data and pass it on as requested?
Instagib 27th January 2014, 14:34 Quote
Yeah, why waste your time and effort making a back door when you can knock on the front and ask for anything you want?
forum_user 27th January 2014, 14:42 Quote
I thought I would post on this, then deleted it because I don't want to waste my energy on Apple.
Gareth Halfacree 27th January 2014, 15:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
So, no back door in place, they just collate all the data and pass it on as requested?
Yeah, pretty much. One of the joys of doing business in the US of A, innit?
rollo 27th January 2014, 15:59 Quote
All ISPs do data monitoring these days, the fact apple monitors there phones is hardly ground breaking stuff. If you download a torrent and the wrong people find out one court order they have to give up your details no questions asked.

This is even in the uk as well.
Spreadie 27th January 2014, 17:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
All ISPs do data monitoring these days, the fact apple monitors there phones is hardly ground breaking stuff. If you download a torrent and the wrong people find out one court order they have to give up your details no questions asked.

This is even in the uk as well.

There is quite a difference here.

The idea is that they would have to produce a compelling argument for the court to authorise this monitoring on an individual, case by case, basis. That has been thrown out the window and they are seemingly free to demand/collect any and all data with little or no oversight.
Corky42 27th January 2014, 17:27 Quote
It could be argued that we have less privacy rights in the virtual world than in RL, sadly i think because it's the internet its less obvious to the general populace.

EDIT: I'm not even sure they need court orders anymore, I'm happy to be corrected but according to info on the Wiki, a European Union council of ministers in January, 2009, adopted a plan to allow police to access the contents of individuals' computers without a warrant. The process, called "remote searching",
Platinum 28th January 2014, 12:45 Quote
Time to shift to Linux?

TBH though if there are backdoors in all the software why hasn't anyone independent come across or exposed them, with hard facts and proof?
Umbra 28th January 2014, 13:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Platinum
Time to shift to Linux?

TBH though if there are backdoors in all the software why hasn't anyone independent come across or exposed them, with hard facts and proof?

Backdoors in software are not worth worrying about, ISPs can and often do keep records and logs of their customers' use of their systems, how detailed those logs might be, as well as how long they're kept, is anyone's guess.

The ISPs and other service providers that can keep logs don't generally make public what is logged or for how long, ISP's might say they care about customer privacy, etc, but they don't need the hassle of going to court to defend a customers rights when some law enforcement agency with a court order tells them to hand over the data.

If someone on this forum posted something that in some way broke the law and law enforcement with a court order asked bit-tech for that persons data would bit-tech refuse?
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