Apple’s face-off with the FBI has proven that the government is willing to use legal force to make companies weaken the encryption on their products, thus harming both the company and its users. Although Apple is challenging the demands, it’s also taking steps to ensure that even if it ends up being forced to weaken its encryption, the FBI won’t be able to use the same trick twice. The company is working to make its devices virtually impenetrable using current techniques, which will undoubtedly start another face-off with the government, but at least it’s something.
Apple engineers have begun developing new security measures that would make it impossible for the government to break into a locked iPhone using methods similar to those now at the center of a court fight in California, according to people close to the company and security experts. If Apple succeeds in upgrading its security — and experts say it almost surely will — the company will create a significant technical challenge for law enforcement agencies, even if the Obama administration wins its fight over access to data stored on an iPhone used by one of the killers in last year’s San Bernardino, Calif., rampage. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted to get into a phone in the future, it would need a new way to do so. That would most likely prompt a new cycle of court fights and, yet again, more technical fixes by Apple. The only way out of this scenario, experts say, is for Congress to get involved. Federal wiretapping laws require traditional phone carriers to make their data accessible to law enforcement agencies. But tech companies like Apple and Google are not covered, and they have strongly resisted legislation that would place similar requirements on them.