Apple was declared the victor in its latest battle with the FBI which officially came to an end in March 2016. The multi-billion dollar technology company kept its dignity by refusing to offer sensitive user data to the FBI. In a recently leaked Wikileaks-Podesta email however, Apple has stated that it will continue its relationship with law enforcement by sending sensitive customer data upon their request.
The Podesta Emails is a series created by WikiLeaks to expose private messages that the Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman and long-term associate of the Clintons John Podesta has sent and received over the past decade.
In one of the leaked emails sent by Apple Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Vice President Lisa Jackson to Podesta, the Apple team clearly stated that the current methods of encryption in place allows the firm to essentially send an unlimited amount of personal and sensitive user data to law enforcement.
Jackson further emphasized that Apple already has a 24-hour live team established for the sole purpose of handling law enforcement and government requests.
“Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process,” Jackson stated. “We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day. Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple’s ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data.”
While there exists a wide range of situations in which users may become vulnerable to data theft, the most concerning and frankly dangerous case is the transfer of financial data from Apple to law enforcement.
Based on decades of unreliable track data and the government’s inability to store information safely, sending sensitive user data to law enforcement and other government agencies hints a serious issue around security protocols and measures.
More importantly, if the Apple team is willing to deal with the Clinton campaign’s Chairman John Podesta in a direct manner, it is highly likely that the firm would not restrict itself from collaborating with a broader range of agencies.
Thus, financial data and the information of users on payment applications like PayPal and even bitcoin wallet applications may not be safe, especially if Apple is able to send a whole collection of sensitive data to law enforcement without any boundaries.
According to the emails, Apple states that strong encryption does not limit their ability to comply. However, cryptographic encryption methods, at least widely-utilized systems, normally disallow even network administrators or companies, in this case Apple, from accessing user data.
The fact that Apple is able to access most of the information on its devices must be considered as a warning sign that security and privacy-focused financial applications installed on mobile phones or tablets could be vulnerable to data theft, if law enforcement and government agencies fail to secure the information in a private ecosystem.