Sources tell both the Washington Post and the NY Times that Apple is working on a tweak to the iPhone that would require the user to input their password before the device’s software could be updated.
The FBI recently called on Apple to help agents unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, 2015. Under the current scenario, agents would only have a very limited number of attempts at guessing the phone’s password before being locked out permanently. The government believes Apple should push out a software update to this device to allow them to get around this roadblock.
But if Apple were to make it so that the device password is required for the phone’s software to update, then that would mean that Apple could not — in future situations — be compelled to help unlock a device, regardless of whether a court tells them to.
As the Post notes, this upgrade to the iPhone’s privacy settings would only apply to new and very recent versions of the iPhone and would therefore not address the current efforts to unlock Farook’s phone, as that device is an older model 5C.
Apple says it has offered suggestions to the FBI on how law enforcement might be able crack Farook’s account, but has vehemently resisted efforts to create a software update that would bypass existing security on its devices.