A new report this afternoon sharply notes that Apple is playing sheriff in a dangerous game with law enforcement. This is what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said of Apple's fight with the U.S. over an encrypted iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terror attacks.
Vance said at a news conference at New York City Police Headquarters with Commissioner William Bratton that "This has become the Wild West in technology. Apple and Google are their own sheriffs and there are no rules."
The two tech companies have created the first "warrant-proof" consumer products, Vance and Bratton said. Law enforcement officials across the country are watching the San Bernardino case closely, they said, because it's the clearest example yet of how Silicon Valley is thwarting crime fighting.
Vance said that "It is very difficult to explain to a victim of crime that authorities can't get the evidence they need because a tech company thinks 'they know where to draw the line between public safety and privacy." Vance added that "Criminals know their phone data can be backed up online and are likely to disable that feature, citing a Rikers Island inmate who bragged to a friend last year in a phone call that encryption was a 'gift from God.'"
Bratton said at the news conference that "The impact of encryption on crime prevention and on Americans' everyday security is even more significant than terrorism concerns," adding that "this is eventually going to require more significant court rulings and definitely legislation."
The California case is "going to open everybody's eyes," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos. "I understand the right to privacy, including mine and yours versus the government, or some would say government intrusion," Ramos said. "But in this case you have a federal motion by a federal magistrate that's very limited to protect the public."
"What are we really doing here? We're protecting a terrorist," he said of Apple's position. "There's no way around that."
Representatives of Apple and Google didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. For more on this, read the full BloombergBusiness report which also includes an interesting video discussion on the matter.