An Apple a day won't keep the FBI away

India watching closely the tussle between the FBI and Apple over access to data on the iPhone.

Times of India reports that Indian authorities are closely watching the ongoing tussle between Apple and America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which has asked the Cupertino-based company to help build a backdoor to data stored in the iPhone of a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Apple has so far turned down the request. The outcome of the tussle may set a precedent for Indian legal authorities while dealing with Apple and indeed other technology companies. In the past, Indian authorities have struggled to get companies like Apple to the negotiating table and extracting data from foreign entities continues to be a complex process. "There is no recourse," said a senior government official who did not wish to be identified.

"If Apple is not agreeing to a US court order, why would it agree to ours — if we ever issued one?" the official added. Given this scenario, it is not surprising that Indian authorities have used some "jugaad" to access data. 'Ethical' hackers are often hired by everyone from local police to intelligence agencies to help break into devices for encrypted data, said a senior government official who did not want to be identified. "Indian agencies are much more informal on authority and people don't insist so much on legal documentation or process here," the official added. "In India, it all works on 'jugaad'. If something like this has to happen in India, I'm very sure (an) Indian company will not say no the way Apple did," said Rohit Srivastwa, founder of ClubHack Labs LLP. To be sure, Indian law does empower investigating agencies to access such data as a last resort in criminal investigations or matters of national security.


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