Apple v. San Bernardino: privacy


Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter

The new fight between the illusion of privacy and enforcing the law is not a new one. When cell phone buyers use their phones, they are not likely anticipating intervention from law enforcement, but when terrorism is put on the table, the attitude changes. In the case of the government versus Apple, the government requested access to the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhones. Now, stuck in battle between security on a personal level and a nation wide level, the fight continues.

Apple released a statement on Feb. 16, 2016, allowing the public to see just how serious they are about the matter.

An Apple spokesperson wrote: “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.”

In the statement, Apple explicitly spoke about the San Bernardino case, showing the public they understand the severity of the situation at hand.

They said, “We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists. When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case.”

However, when the FBI asked Apple to create to new software interface for the iPhone, so that they can apply it to the shooter’s phone to bypass security feature, Apple drew a line in the sand.

To create this program would be to put all iPhone users at risk of hacking, on a huge level. This would be a security breech too large for Apple to handle. This is when the fight for safety become relative. Releasing to program would help the government create a safer environment for Americans from terrorism. But, it might lead to an unsafe situation for Americans’ credit cards and identity information. Think about it. Your phone probably has a lot of sensitive information on it. This information is safe because of Apple’s encryption features. If Apple releases an “antidote” for the encryption, it could fall into the wrong hands, making potentially any John Smith with an iPhone, a victim to password theft.

On the flip side, this program could save Americans from another terrorist attack, as the shooter in the San Bernardino case actively pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The phone could have a slew of leads and contacts that the FBI could use to plant spies in an ISIS group in America, or abroad.

Do the security risks on either side outweigh the other? I think it is impossible to tell, since all of these situations are hypothetical. Regardless, the topic continues to grow as one of importance to the everyday, American smartphone user. 

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