Apple encrypts your iOS device’s locally stored data, but it doesn’t fully encrypt iCloud backups and that was apprently a conscious choice. Reuters sources say Apple dropped plans for end-to-end encryption of iCloud backups codenamed KeyDrop and Plesio.
Without any public announcement, Apple dropped plans two years ago that would have given access to iPhone owners to full encryption services, enabling them to lock access to the data in the backups to their devices in the company’s iCloud service, Reuters reported.
The story comes as Apple finds itself under attack from the FBI and President Donald Trump over what they have characterized as the company’s reluctance to help unlock the Saudi shooter’s two iPhones.
Apple has rejected this characterization, noting it has turned over the backups to the accused Saudi killer’s phones while also claiming it has provided substantial, behind-the-scenes help to the FBI on other, unrelated issues, according to Reuters.
Apple originally had planned to offer “end to end encryption” to iPhone users through the tech company’s iCloud service, Reuters reported, citing one current and one former Apple employee and three former FBI officials.
Once the data was encrypted and stored away on the company’s cloud platform, Apple would not have had the key to retrieve it should the government later demand access to the data on the customer’s iPhone.
While the tech giant’s aim was to thwart hackers, the FBI strongly objected to the plan, arguing it would severely hamper its investigative abilities, Reuters reported.
If Apple was trying to placate law enforcement, it didn’t work. The FBI is once again pushing Apple to facilitate unlocking iPhones in the case of alleged Pensacola shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, even though it appears likely the bureau could access that info through other means. This is despite Apple having turned over iCloud backups for the shooter. Authorities want the power to access any device data on request, and Apple’s possible compromise wasn’t enough in their eyes.