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By Bruce Sussman
Tue | Jan 21, 2020 | 9:06 AM PST

Last week, Apple was a hero to privacy advocates and a villain to the U.S. Attorney General and President Trump.

Now, a new report may flip the script and have privacy advocates criticizing Apple. 

Report: Apple cancels some of its encryption plans

Reuters just completed an investigation and claims to have six sources that revealed something we've never heard before: Apple reportedly canceled some of its encryption plans after complaints from the FBI.

"More than two years ago, Apple told the FBI that it planned to offer users end-to-end encryption when storing their phone data on iCloud, according to one current and three former FBI officials and one current and one former Apple employee.

Under that plan, primarily designed to thwart hackers, Apple would no longer have a key to unlock the encrypted data, meaning it would not be able to turn material over to authorities in a readable form even under court order.

In private talks with Apple soon after, representatives of the FBI's cyber crime agents and its operational technology division objected to the plan, arguing it would deny them the most effective means for gaining evidence against iPhone-using suspects, the government sources said."

Privacy advocates will not be too happy when they hear the news. However, they were smiling last week.

[RELATED: Apple vs. the FBI in the Encryption Battle]

Apple on privacy and the Pensacola shooter

A public spat erupted last week between the U.S. government and Apple. President Trump called out the company on Twitter:


Apple refused to unlock the two iPhones a Saudi airman was carrying when he shot and killed several people at Pensacola Naval Air Station. 

U.S. Attorney General William Barr also released photos showing the suspect purposefully damaged the two iPhones he was carrying at the time of the shooting. The government shared this as an indication there are things of value to investigators on the phones.


Apple weighs in on encryption vs. privacy

Apple responded publicly to the latest round of tension between privacy, data encryption, and government investigations.

"We are continuing to work with the FBI, and our engineering teams recently had a call to provide additional technical assistance. Apple has great respect for the Bureau's work, and we will work tirelessly to help them investigate this tragic attack on our nation.

We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users' data."

The encryption debate continues.