“Reports suggest the decision was influenced by Apple’s courtroom tussle in 2016 with FBI over an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters”
Apple devices usually come with dedicated privacy features to protect user data stored on the device. However, it’s a different case for iCloud backups though as it encrypts the data in iCloud to prevent it from falling in the hands of attackers. The company holds the keys to decrypt it. CEO Tim Cook in 2019 said, “Our users have a key and we have one. We do this because some users lose or forget their key and then expect help from us to get their data back.” Apple shares them with the government and police when legally required. In 2018, Apple said to have planned to change this by implementing the same end-to-end encryption used on devices to users’ iCloud backups, but it didn’t do so.
Now, Apple seems to have scrapped its plans after the FBI complained about the initiative, according to a report from Reuters. One former Apple employee said, “Legal killed it, for reasons you can imagine.” Sources suggest that the decision was influenced by Apple’s court discussions in 2016 with FBI over an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. While the FBI had demanded that Apple build a backdoor into the devices, the company refused and said that it would undermine its security policy.
Sources suggest that Apple doesn’t want to worsen the situation further with the FBI by locking it out of iCloud backups. “They decided they weren’t going to poke the bear anymore,” said the source. FBI officials said to have informed Apple that if it locks iCloud, it would harm its investigations. The FBI and other law enforcement bodies request Apple to decrypt iCloud data at regular intervals and the company complies with 90 percent of such requests.