Apple vs FBI: The possible end of encryption

Here is a German version of this article.

It’s still completely open how the conflict between Apple and the US government about unlocking encrypted iPhones will end. But eventually, one of two outcomes will become reality:

  1. Apple will legitimately be freed from the demands to unlock encrypted iPhones through backdoors, even if this means that particular investigations involving criminal or terrorist acts will not be provided with the requested data access.
  2. Apple will be forced to obey investigators who in specific cases demand access to encrypted data by building a backdoor into its software.

If Apple manages to establish a legal or political right to protect user data through encryption as well as to fend off demands for backdoors (which could compromise the safety of millions), this would lead to at least some sort of legal certainty, not only for Apple but for every other tech company in the business of hosting and storing encrypted user data. In addition, Apple would manifest its increasingly thoroughly crafted image as defender of civil rights and might be rewarded with new sales records. Continue Reading

Apple’s app review process is extremely unpopular, and yet it works so well for the company

iPhone owners who use apps usually are not aware of the pain that the apps’ creators had to go through before they could release the software. Most developers who build apps for iOS are not big fans of the lengthy, bureaucratic review process. Some really hate it.

A post by the U.S.-based developer Kushal Dave just got a lot of attention for pointing out the various issues with Apple’s app approval process. I myself was mostly nodding in agreement while reading Dave’s piece. Even as a non-technical member of a mobile startup, I fully could relate to some of his remarks. I am sure that thousands of others feel the same (as the many likes the article received indicate). Continue Reading

The “privacy activist” Tim Cook’s criticism gets uncomfortable for Google and Facebook

A fascinating debate is going on between the consumer technology giants Apple, Facebook and Google. For a while Apple CEO Tim Cook has been emphasizing privacy as an important feature of Apple products. Several times he referred to the practices of major Internet firms such as Facebook and Google as the opposite of how his company would act (usually without mentioning their name). And no matter how much hypocrisy one might believe to find in Cook’s words, there indeed is a fundamental difference between Apple and the two Internet juggernauts: Apple generates the lion share of its revenue with selling high-margin premium gadgets. Google’s and Facebook’s revenue streams are almost exclusively based on advertising. Google and Facebook need to know as much as possible about their users to be able sell more ads at higher prices. There is no way to deny this. Apple is much less depended on knowing each and every user action and preference. No matter how you slice it – and Apple’s security-related privacy issues aside – Tim Cook has a point.

Most recently he used this argumentation in an interview with The Telegraph. Cook said things like this: Continue Reading