As the FBI continues to examine the San Bernardino shooters’ backgrounds, it’s also relentless in attempting to coerce Apple into unlocking one shooter’s phone, risking the privacy of many iPhone users.
According to CNBC, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered that Apple write the encryption software that would allow the FBI to unlock the deceased shooter’s phone, but Apple refused.
Apple’s main stated concern is the privacy of their customers; forcing the company to essentially “hack themselves” is what it believes to be a violation of its rights. Forcing Apple to override their system risks more than the potential gain.
It would be the sheer peak of cruel irony to have Apple, a company that prides itself in having software with one of the best security systems, hacking its own software. Apple said in a statement that “the government’s demand also violates Apple’s Fifth Amendment right to be free from arbitrary deprivation of its liberties in that it would conscript Apple to develop software that undermines the security mechanisms of its own products.”
It’s reported that over twenty-five major companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, have rallied alongside Apple. However, companies are not the only ones backing Apple as customers have held demonstrations around the country also supporting Apple’s refusal.
Although I believe that the San Bernardino shooter has no right to have his information protected, I also believe that putting iPhone customers’ privacy at risk is not a fair solution. There is not a reasonable amount of evidence here to prove that Apple is not risking the safety of each and every iPhone, and millions of people, in order to potentially get information about a legal case.
The question is whether or not this is going to be an ongoing occurrence and whether law enforcement will be asking companies like Apple to “hack themselves” in order to move forward in their investigations, while simultaneously neglecting cyber security that they have personal control over. The government cannot and should not impede the rights of a corporation that has so tirelessly positioned itself on the right side of safety and user privacy. If the FBI can compel Apple to divulge information about this one shooter, it’s likely to set a precedent of that will ultimately infringe upon everyone’s right to privacy.