Apple is sticking to its guns when it comes to granting authorities and other government entities access to its devices.
A New York district Judge recently asked Apple to comment on a government request for the unlocking of an iPhone in a case he was presiding over.
A Reuters report notes that Magistrate Judge James Orenstein defered ruling on a case wherein law enforcement agents had discovered a “device to be locked, and have tried and failed to bypass that lock,” and as a result could not gain access to the device.
Orenstein appealed to Apple for its opinion and for technical insight on the feasability of unlocking.
“In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform,” Apple told the court. “For devices running iOS 8 or higher, Apple would not have the technical ability to do what the government requests—take possession of a password protected device from the government and extract unencrypted user data from that device for the government.”
Apple went on to reference its security guidlines for iOS 8, pointing to stronger encryption standards implemented in the release.
“In iOS 8, the default class of protection changed, and the encryption keys used for the vast majority of files stored on devices now are protected with a key derived from the user-chosen passcode,” Apple said. “The end-result is that a person must know the passcode to decrypt the majority of the data on the device.”
Apple says that as of October 5, 2015, 90 percent of its devices are running iOS 8 or higher.
Apple also argued that if it were to agree to unlock devices for law enforcement agencies without a strong legal argument for doing so, the practice could hurt the company’s reputation and brand.
“Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand,” Apple said. “This reputational harm could have a longer term economic impact beyond the mere cost of performing the single
extraction at issue.”