Update on Apple & the FBI
The case between Apple and the FBI has been getting a lot of attention lately, but things might be coming to an end soon. As everyone likely knows, this case has been about the FBI trying to compel Apple to help unlock an iPhone that was used by someone who murdered 14 and wounded 22 people in San Bernardino. On March 21st the Federal Bureau of Investigation filed a motion for a continuance of the March 22nd hearing that was scheduled to determine whether Apple could be compelled to help the government access the iPhone. The FBI decided to do this after a currently unidentified group presented a method to unlock the phone without Apple’s help to the FBI on March 20th.
However, if this method works the FBI may be compelled to disclose it to Apple. The Obama administration has created an equities process, which determines whether new security flaws should be kept secret or revealed to the companies in question. This is an interagency process that has “no hard and fast rules”. Some of the factors that may be considered can be seen in the April 28, 2014 White House blog post by Michael Daniel, the Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator. The EFF has the official 2016 version of the policy on its website, which it obtained through FOIA litigation, but it is partially redacted. The blog makes clear that there is a tradeoff between disclosing security flaws the government discovers, and using them to gather information. So, it is by no means certain that the FBI would be compelled to disclose this information.
As it now stands, the government is required to file a status report with the court by April 5, 2016.
Recent Changes in Foreign Nations
On March 17th Norway released a new draft Copyright Law (note some links are in Norwegian). The deadline for comments on this proposed law is August 8, 2016. Norway’s existing Copyright Act of 1961 has not kept up with modern technology according to the Culture Ministry. The focus of the draft is to strengthen the rights that copyright holders have, especially in areas involving digital consumption. One interesting aspect of this new law is that it would outlaw viewing movies or other copyright-protected content online if the content is clearly from an illegal source. That is to say, that individual Internet users would be liable for the online material they view if that material is of unlicensed content that has obviously been posted illegally and if viewing the material would likely damage the copyright holders’ economic interests. Moreover, law enforcement would have the power to take down websites hosting such content without a court order. If this part of the draft law passes, it will certainly make it easier for Norway to shut down Norwegian torrenting sites, but it may also impact legitimate websites, such as news websites.