There has been a kerfuffle recently between Apple and some people accusing the company of placing backdoors in the iOS software that would allow government agencies to spy on and collect information about targets. Apple responded adamantly that they never cooperated with any government of any country. However, the company did admit to putting back doors in the software – they claim that these are only for diagnostic information and can only be accessed in certain instances with consent of the user.
The allegations and accusations are primarily coming from an individual named Jonathan Zdziarski, an author and forensic scientist. He claims that the NSA may have used the backdoors to gain information on potential targets. He didn’t claim that Apple worked with the NSA, but just that the backdoors exist in the first place.
Apple has often responded to allegations about security and privacy and colluding with the government on providing access to information about users. They always say the same thing: that they do not work with the US Government or any other government in providing any sort of data access. However, this time Apple did say that the backdoors do exist:
We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues. A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data. The user must agree to share this information, and data is never transferred without their consent.
As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products of services.
The fact that Apple even admitted this is a target for Zdziarski, who stated:
“I have NOT accused Apple of working with NSA, however I suspect (based on released documents) that some of these services MAY have been used by NSA to collect data on potential targets,” Zdziarski said in a blog post. “I am not suggesting some grand conspiracy; there are, however, some services running in iOS that shouldn’t be there, that were intentionally added by Apple as part of the firmware, and that bypass backup encryption while copying more of your personal data than ever should come off the phone for the average consumer. I think at the very least, this warrants an explanation and disclosure to the some 600 million customers out there running iOS devices.”
This leaves users scratching their heads. It’s common knowledge now that there are backdoors in many devices such as phones, and this is something that people are not so sure they are in agreement with. National security is one thing, but when does the line get drawn between personal privacy and a need for national security? Many people are concerned about Big Brother getting too big for its britches.