A new report today from Forbes sheds a new perspective on the relationship between the FBI and Apple. From the public’s perspective, the two usually seem to be at odds, but the FBI’s San Francisco chief has shared why “we heart Apple” and how the relationship between the two is improving.
John Bennett is the head of San Francisco’s FBI division and shared some interesting details with Forbes about how Apple and the government agency work well together. Notably, Bennet was a major player in the San Bernardino incident, but he isn’t letting any of that sour his perspective of Apple.
Bennett is grateful to Apple for the company’s help with not just the FBI, but law enforcement agencies across the country, like local police departments. Often times media can put so much focus on the times Apple is at odds with law enforcement, it overshadows that in the majority of scenarios, Apple is collaborating to find solutions.
…it was clear the relationship between Apple and law enforcement (in San Francisco at least) was much closer than the stream of media stories would have one believe. He had much praise for Apple, particularly for its direct assistance for law enforcement, not just at the FBI but at local police departments too.
As for the FBI vs. Apple narrative, Bennett feels it was overblown.
A lot of people made a lot of hay that everyone was at war with each other…. Apple is a great company that we have tremendous respect for.
Bennett also notes that Apple helps the FBI with Mac training, particularly with the FBI’s Silicon Valley laboratory and even offers the same to local authorities.
“They’ve offered training for Mac forensics and they do that for a lot of law enforcement. We just happen to be in their backyard, so it’s a little easier for when they want to do a class,” Bennett said. “We schedule something, they come to the facility and we bring people in from around the country to work with them. They offer those forensic training classes, not only to the FBI but to local departments too.”
As for more details on why Bennett says the FBI loves Apple, he shares how the relationship is a two-way street, and how the FBI helps out Apple.
According to Bennett, the relationship isn’t one-way traffic. “From our experience in San Francisco, we have meetings with Apple and they are not only a great company but they’re also victims. Their stuff gets hit and their employees get in harm’s way, so they call us locally on a lot of things they need help for .”
While Bennett doesn’t fully agree with Apple’s approach to security, he does appreciate it.
Bennett isn’t entirely enamored by Apple’s focus on improving iPhone security with layers of encryption. But he understands the Cupertino company’s approach. “They’re in an interesting environment where they have to service a legal process from agencies, from FBI to GCHQ to Chinese to Russian services. They are trying to make sure everyone is playing from a level field.
The full Forbes article is an intriguing read, check it out here.