Black: Security or Privacy?
Never since the days of J. Edgar Hoover has the FBI been so reviled. In the wake of the investigation of the San Bernardino terror attack, it has received backlash from tech companies and the public alike. And over what? Why, over one iPhone.
Apple is famed for its marketing prowess, and this case is no exception. However instead of selling iMacs and iPads, Apple is trying to sell their argument. First, they posit that creating the so-called “backdoor” for the FBI would compromise the security of not just one device, but devices everywhere. This is interesting given that Apple already has the capability to break into their products. This is not a creation issue; it is an implementation issue.
This brings us to Apple’s most touted point – they want their customers’ information to be private. Make no mistake; Apple is not complying with the FBI for a reason , and it’s not because they stand on some moral high ground (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/22/fbi-director-urges-apple-to-help-unlock-killers-iphone-in-passionate-statement-its-about-the-victims-and-justice/). Simply put, their public image would suffer if they “gave in” to the FBI on such a sensitive issue. This would presumably undermine consumer trust in Apple and thus shrink their immense profit margins.
Of course, making equivocal statements and protecting their own interests does not by itself make Apple wrong. Its behavior is rational for the predicament it is in.What can you expect from a corporation that values profits over human rights violations and tax law? In fact, other tech companies like AT&T and Intel have chimed in with support for Apple (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/03/03/t-latest-company-back-apples-stance-against-feds/81227900/), perhaps foreseeing the effect that this decision may have on their corporations.
The main thrust of the FBI’s case is that the public’s privacy comes at the risk of security. Should this trend continue, are we as the American people content with potential evidence never being submitted because of today’s highly sophisticated encryption technology? The issue, of course, is larger than this one case.
In the end, the best solution may not be to have a blanket policy, but rather to take this issue on a case-by-case basis. It may be easier to promote a “one-size-fits-all” policy, but the problem remains that there are certainly areas where the FBI forcing corporations is unwarranted or as legalese states “burdensome.” However, in cases like the San Bernardino shootings, it is clear that although privacy is comfortable, national security is all too necessary.
White: Will the “Land of the Free” Stay “Free” Any Longer?
One of the most basic ideals upon which the United States of America was built is now in jeopardy. The FBI, in possession of one of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhones, wants Apple to bypass its security restrictions and allow the FBI access to the phone and the contents in it. The software for hacking iPhones, however, does not exist, and the creation of it would put all iPhone owners at risk. More than 94 million people in the United States alone own an iPhone, so this would be affecting hordes of people.
The American people take great pride in the freedom they enjoy in their country. If the FBI wins this court case, will that still be applicable? Can America still be “the land of the free” without its freedom? The FBI argues that it is simply trying to find out more information, that the contents on the phone could potentially give it leads to other terrorist plans, other people involved, etc. However, what it fails to acknowledge is the great danger this could put every iPhone owner in. The encryption on the iPhones keep the information safe, but without it, anyone could have access to it. The FBI claims it’s trying to keep Americans safe and stop the terrorists. It doesn’t realize, however, or is ignoring, that creating this software could be counterproductive, actually putting sensitive information in the hands of the terrorists.
In reaction to these arguments, the FBI has insisted time and time again that it is not interested in the halting of encryption altogether, that it doesn’t want everyone’s data to be accessible. All it is interested in is having access to this one phone. This is extremely naïve, for you cannot create software to hack into a singular phone. If you create it, it’s out there, and it applies to all devices. No matter what you do, it is impossible to single out the one phone, to hack only it.
There is no real way to stay true to the United States of America’s most basic principles and also grant the FBI’s wishes. They are contradictory, unable to exist simultaneously. If America wishes to change, wishes to “adapt,” to give up certain principles that it once held dear to pursue something that it deems more important, then Apple should indeed create the software and hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. However, if the US wishes to remain the “land of the free”, if it still values its freedom and the privacy of its citizens, then it should not matter what benefits may come from overstepping these boundaries. Up until now, for the most part, America has stayed true to its name. But the question remains: will it in the future?