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Battle On Between Apple, Aussie Govt. Over iPhone Data

The Turnbull Government and Apple Australia could be headed for a major legal battle as the Government steps up demands by law-enforcement officials for information from the iPhones seized from suspected criminals.

Apple Australia is following the lead of its US parent by refusing to comply with requests from Australian law-enforcement officials for such information.

According to Apple, since January 2013, Australian agencies – including counter-terrorism and child-abuse units in State police forces – have made 774 requests for information from Apple relating to accounts – and it has either refused or challenged 399 of them. It provided basic information such as identities and details of owners of their products – described as “non-content data” – in 299 cases.

Observers note that information on iPhones is encrypted and if passcodes are active, police have to rely on owners agreeing to give them the code.

According to an Australian IT report, the Turnbull Government intends to introduce by the end of the year new legislation to compel tech companies to supply decryption.

However in the US Apple has claimed it is unable to do so, since its system of encryption was specifically designed to prevent anyone – even Apple technicians – from accessing the data. It has declined to build a “backdoor” into its systems for use by police and security agencies.

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