iPhone Ethics

Should we value public security or data security when it comes to terrorists’ phones?

By Saheb Sarkar.

There are no clearly defined boundaries to the question of which is more important, public security or data security, a question that has become increasingly polarizing after the case of the San Bernardino shooter, Syad Rizwan Farook. The FBI believe that there is potentially major evidence of alleged involvement with ISIS locked on his cell phone. Until they were able to crack the phone with outside help, as was reported on March 28, the FBI had requested that Apple create a programming backdoor for the phone’s operating system that allows for the suspension of time-sensitive data erasure and passcode lockout features.

Apple countered with a strong refusal, citing customer privacy as well as the potential of opening the software to further breaches from other sources. Additionally, acquiescing to this FBI request could set a precedent with regards to the accessibility of encrypted information and have major implications for other companies with large shares in the software market. Major CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai already have shown support for Apple’s decision.

The FBI has stated that they are not attempting to create any kind of landmark and assure that this is truly a unique case. However, it is difficult to define either side as being entirely in the right, since land terrorism and the potential for cyber terrorism are both equally, if extremely different, potent forces that must be curtailed for the security of the public. Now that they have their own crack for the phone, the FBI have dropped the case against Apple.

One of Apple’s major concerns had been …

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