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During his questioning, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said by accessing his iPhone data and chats, the ED would be privy to details of AAP’s ’election strategy’ and pre-poll alliances

Apple has reportedly denied to unlock and give the Enforcement Directorate (ED) access to the iPhone used by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Cupertino-based tech-giant has reportedly said the data can only be accessed with the password set by the owner of the device.

A report by The Indian Express quoted sources saying that during ED’s raid on the night of Kejriwal’s arrest on March 21, the agency just found Rs 70,000 and four mobile phones, including the CM’s smartphone, which were confiscated. The Delhi CM, allegedly, had switched off his iPhone and denied sharing his password.

Why Kejriwal did not share his iPhone’s password with ED?

As per reports, Kejriwal, during his questioning, said that by accessing his mobile phone data and chats, the ED would be privy to details of AAP’s “election strategy” and pre-poll alliances.

Apple’s history of not unlocking devices for law enforcement

This isn’t the first time where Apple has refused to unlock the device at the request of a country’s investigating agencies.

In 2020, Apple refused to unlock the device of one Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a second lieutenant with the Saudi Air Force after he three Americans to death at Pensacola Naval Air Station. American authorities called this an act of terrorism, and the FBI had asked Apple to unlock the device and share the data with them to aid their investigation.

However, Apple refused to unlock the device but provided the investigative authorities with a wide variety of information that was associated with Alshamrani. Upon further requests, Apple provided more information including what they could retrieve from iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts.

Similarly, in 2016, a federal judge asked Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhones of two suspected terrorists, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the 2015 San Bernardino attack.

The judge had asked Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the authorities and come up with a solution that would override Apple’s feature, that disables the phone after 10 unsuccessful password attempts and renders the data on the device inaccessible. Apple in this instance too, declined to help the FBI.

Why Apple refuses to unlock devices for law enforcement agencies?

Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly defended the company’s refusal to entertain such requests citing Apple’s guarantee of securing their user’s privacy, but more importantly, of safeguarding civil liberty.

“This case (referring to the one involving Farook) is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out,” Cook said in an email to employees. Cook, and the rest of Apple’s leadership have often gone out of their way to explain, how being for encryption isn’t the same as enabling crime and sympathising with terrorists.

Cook further went on to say that while Apple has “no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists,” complying with what the Department of Justice’s orders would set a dangerous precedent.

“At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties,” Cook had written in that email.

Apple believes that if they create a backdoor to the encryption of their devices for the “good guys” i.e. the police of law enforcement agencies, that backdoor, will be exploited by the “bad guys” i.e. cybercriminals, hackers and other rogue agents

Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy, Jane Horvath, went on the record to say that “end-to-end encryption is critically important to the services we rely on.” Furthermore, Horvath said that “building a backdoor to encryption is not the way we’re going to solve those issues (investigating terrorists).”

With inputs from agencies

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