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Apple Says FBI Shut Down Plans To Encrypt iCloud Backups

Apple says it had plans to allow users to encrypt iPhone backups on iCloud but the FBI objected and the project was closed.


Love it or hate it, 's model of having a largely closed and in-house ecosystem has benefits. Among them is security and Apple's protection of customer information, which is better than most companies. Sure, there are problems (just ask Jennifer Lawrence), but Cupertino protects user information well.

That's led to Apple having several legal spats with the U.S. government. The latest has seen the company once again refuse to hand over data in a legal case. Now, Cupertino says consistent complaints from the FBI stopped it from allowing users to encrypt their backups on iCloud.

Codenamed Plesio and KeyDrop, the feature would have given users the ability to encrypt their phone backups. In other words, authorities like the FBI would not be able to access personal information. Importantly, not even a court order would work to unlock the data.

Apple informed the FBI that it planned to introduce the tool. However, the FBI cybercrime and operation technology division complained about the plans. Apple says its idea of stopping hackers on iCloud was later shut down.

A former Apple employee told Reuters, “Legal killed it, for reasons you can imagine.”

Current Legal Battle

Cupertino has doubled down on its decision not to unlock a password protected device that belonged to a Florida shooter.

Investigators argue the data is needed for its case against Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. In December, the Saudi-born Air Force cadet gunned down three people at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

However, Apple said it is helping the FBI in the Pensacola shooting case but won't unlock two iPhones.

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the company said in a statement emailed to Threatpost. “Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing.”

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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