Sheri Pym Favors Involuntary Servitude
By David Henderson
Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.
Apple’s reasonable technical assistance may include, but is not limited to: providing the FBI with a signed iPhone Software file, recovery bundle, or other Software Image File (“SIF”) that can be loaded onto the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF will load and run from Random Access Memory and will not modify the iOS on the actual phone, the user data partition or system partition on the device’s flash memory. The SIF will be coded by Apple with a unique identifier of the phone so that the SIF would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF will be loaded via Device Firmware Upgrade (“DFU”) mode, recovery mode, or other applicable mode available to the FBI. Once active on the SUBJECT DEVICE, the SIF will accomplish the three functions specified in paragraph 2. The SIF will be loaded on the SUBJECT DEVICE at either a government facility, or alternatively, at an Apple facility; if the latter, Apple shall provide the government with remote access to the SUBJECT DEVICE through a computer allowing the government to conduct passcode recovery analysis.
If Apple determines that it can achieve the three functions stated above in paragraph 2, as well as the functionality set forth in paragraph 3, using an alternate technological means from that recommended by the government, and the government concurs, Apple may comply with this Order in that way.
This is from an order by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym.
Ms. Pym has ordered Apple to use its own resources, uncompensated, to help the federal government access the contents of a cell phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Did Apple shoot the people? No. What did Apple do? It produced an “insanely great” (the term used by the late Steve Jobs for an earlier Apple product) iPhone that has an important feature: other people cannot easily break into it.
Many commentators have focused on how dangerous it could be for privacy for the rest of us iPhone users if Judge Pym gets her way and Apple succeeds with software to break the privacy feature. Does anyone believe that the feds would stop there and not reverse engineer?
But that commentary misses an important point: even if Judge Pym’s solution works and works only on the particular iPhone, she is trying to force Apple into involuntary servitude. We have an Amendment to the Constitution that bans her action. Will a higher court have the guts to enforce it?