The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University. Technology is the centerpiece of our society, with almost everyone owning a cell phone and a personal computer. Yet one phone has become of much higher importance than any other personal piece of technology in 2016. Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c.The FBI and Apple have been battling over a court order for the tech giant to unlock and administer information from the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone.
On December 2, 2015 Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik massacred 14 people at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. They had a six-month old baby girl, whom they left at Farook’s mother’s home. Farook worked for the county and was an environmental health specialist with the San Bernardino County health department. He had been there for five years. Farook and Malik were later killed in a shootout with police, but the attackers’ specific motives remain unclear.
James Comey, the FBI director, says that the terrifying attack which caused the death of 14 and injury of 22 people, warrants the pursuit of all leads. Yet Apple identifies that the case is about much more than just a single phone or a single investigation, stating “At stake is the data and security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.” The FBI believes it may hold “critical communications” around the time of the shooting, the only problem being the password. Apple’s encryption technology erases the phones data after ten failed attempts to break the passcode.
FBI officials say they want the chance to investigate further. The possibilities of finding further information that could be linked to the attack, Comey said, “We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.” In the eyes of the FBI investigators the phone may hold clues toward finding more terrorists. Comey says, “But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.”
Ted Olsen, Apple’s attorney, received much backlash because of the comment he had made earlier in the week, saying: “There’s no limit to what the government could require Apple to do if it succeeds this way,” But Apple “has to draw the line at re-creating code, changing its iPhone, putting its engineers and creative talents to destroy the iPhone as it exists.” In his mind, the line of strict privacy regulations are beginning to waver and for the protection of the Apple users all over the world, they believe access should be denied.
Apple furthermore released a Q&A to the public, provoking a conversation detailing the possible infringement of the general public’s right to privacy stating, “The order would set a legal precedent that would expand the powers of the government and we simply don’t know where that would lead us. Should the government be allowed to order us to create other capabilities for surveillance purposes, such as recording conversations or location tracking? This would set a very dangerous precedent.”
Where should America draw the line between personal privacy and federal involvement? Should Apple be forced to give such information over to the FBI? Or should private information be kept private? It might seem like an easy debate, but Apple believes that such violations will continually lead to the lessening and lessening of the personal privacy of Americans. What do you think, are you team Apple or team FBI? Please leave us your thoughts in the comments below!