Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

White House says FBI wants access to one iPhone, not blanket backdoor from Apple

The White House has taken issue with Apple's suggestion that creating a backdoor to iOS would threaten the security of all its customers, instead arguing that the issue applies to just one iPhone in question.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, spokesman Josh Earnest said the government does not want Apple to "create a new backdoor to its products," according to Reuters. Instead, he suggested the issue is related to just one case: The December terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that resulted in 16 deaths and 24 injuries.

The White House believes this is about one case, but Apple believes creating a backdoor could set a dangerous precedent.

"(President Barack Obama) certainly believes that this is an important national priority," Earnest told reporters at the White House.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook himself predicted this argument in his open letter to the public on Wednesday, saying that the government "may argue that its use would be limited to this case." But in Cook's view, "there is no way to guarantee such control."

From Apple's perspective, creating a tool to access a single iPhone could open the flood gates for future issues rippling well beyond the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting.

"In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today —  would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," Cook said.

The controversy began Tuesday, when a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Apple to comply with FBI requests to help extract data from an iPhone owned by one of the shooters involved in the terrorist attack. The device in question is an iPhone 5c that was password protected by the gunman, and is set to erase a stored decryption key after ten unsuccessful login attempts.