March 4, 2016 11:44 am

UN human rights chief warns of implications of iPhone hacking

A pedestrian walks by the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue while avoiding a small demonstration held along the sidewalk, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in New York. Protesters assembled in more than 30 cities around the world to lash out at the FBI for obtaining a court order that requires Apple to make it easier to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a gunman in December's mass murders in California.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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GENEVA – The U.N. human rights chief says U.S. authorities “risk unlocking a Pandora’s Box” in their efforts to force Apple to create software to crack the security features on its phones, and is urging them to proceed with caution.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein warned in a statement Friday about the potential for “extremely damaging implications” on human rights, journalists, whistle-blowers, political dissidents and others. He said the case is “potentially a gift to authoritarian regimes” and criminal hackers.

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Through the courts, the FBI is trying to force Apple to help crack an encrypted iPhone used by a gunman behind a December shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people.

Zeid said the case centres on where the “key red line” should be set to protect people “from criminals and repression.”

Apple vs. FBI: What happens next?

March 10: The government will have a chance to respond to Apple’s order asking the federal magistrate to reverse her order.

March 15: Once the government has issued its final response, Apple will have a chance to reply by this date.

March 22: Lawyers representing both Apple and the FBI will appear in a district court in California. Each side will argue their case to the magistrate judge, who is expected to hand down her ruling shortly after. The losing party will have the option to appeal the ruling.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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