Apple’s Battle with the Government
Addresses, social security numbers, credit card information and bank statements are all unceremoniously stored on the 94 million operating iPhones of the American people.
Users trust that their information is safe with Apple Inc.’s security, and to this point, they’ve been largely correct.
But Apple is currently in a heated court battle with the United States Justice Department over the access to the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino shootings.
The government wants Apple to grant them access to the phone by giving the FBI unlimited tries to guess Farook’s password. Farook had his phone set up in a certain way, so that after 10 wrong attempts at his passcode the phone would delete all of its data, which could possibly be crucial to finding more Islamic radicalists.
Apple is refusing to unlock the phone due to security reasons, claiming that the encryption for one iPhone is the same as all of the iPhones. Unlocking one in this manner would open a Pandora’s box — not only to government officials, but possibly to skilled hackers.
While the government is in place to keep the American people safe, the opening of this one iPhone has the potential to be detrimental if the information got in the wrong hands — or if the government wanted to use it to monitor certain phones for trigger words, Google searches and downloads.
It’s not like public monitoring hasn’t happened before or doesn’t continue to happen. The Patriot Act that allowed wiretapping in 2001 still stands and was actually expanded in 2011 by President Obama.
In 2013, Edward Snowden tipped off journalists that the N.S.A tapped into Google and Yahoo’s fiber optic wires that transmit data outside of the U.S.
These cases are known to Apple, and the company has decided to take a stand. Not because they think the information held on Farook’s phone couldn’t be important — Apple already gave the F.B.I. Farook’s iCloud information — but because unlocking one could unlock them all.
All 94 million of them in America and countless others around the globe.
Cyber terrorists can also use the new encryption information to make un-hackable channels of communication that they can use to plan attacks.
Apple’s decision to resist unlocking the iPhone is being backed by other major names in technology including Google, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Normally it is consumer groups who rally corporations to stand up for their rights. Now the corporations are leading the charge, and it is all but imperative we support their fight for our rights.
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