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Encryption backdoors are a “terrible idea” says Satya Nadella


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In a meeting with reporters in New York, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella spoke against an encryption backdoor that will be tailored for law enforcement. In the ongoing case for the Pensacola naval base shootings, the FBI had sought Apple’s help to unlock two iPhones linked with the assailant, who killed three people during his spree. 

This isn’t new for Apple as it fielded off similar requests during the San Bernardino shootings. The FBI had requested the company to create a modified version of the system OS that could be used to unlock the phone. Apple refused, which led to a stalemate after a drawn-out months-long legal battle which finally closed after FBI found a third-party that could unlock the phone for them.

Apple has maintained that it cannot produce local data stored on an iPhone without a user’s passcode or authentication. It has refused to create a special backdoor for law enforcement, as the existence of any loophole in the system can be exploited and could put every iPhone owner at risk. 

Asked about his thoughts on the stalemate, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said, “I do think backdoors are a terrible idea, that is not the way to go about this. We’ve always said we care about these two things: privacy and public safety. We need some legal and technical solution in our democracy to have both of those be priorities.”

Nadella also said that “We can’t take hard positions on all sides… [but if they’re] asking me for a backdoor, I’ll say no. My hope is that in our democracy these are the things that arrive at legislative solutions.”

Apple also found itself in hot soup with Attorney General William Barr who said that Apple had provided no “substantive assistance” in unlocking the iPhones. 

Apple immediately released a statement following Barr’s remarks, claiming that they had “produced a wide variety of information associated with the investigation” including “iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts.” 

Apple also reiterated its stance on user privacy saying that there were no backdoors “just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.”   

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