By: Devonne Tourre
Creation versus creator; this legal situation could potentially show what could have been brewing in the San Bernardino shooter’s mind. But is this worth the government potentially knowing what is on our phones?
On Tuesday, February 12, a Los Angeles judge ordered Apple to help the FBI with an iPhone 5C that had belonged to one of the shooters that occurred in the California San Bernardino shooting in December. The FBI had claimed that for two months that they have been trying to unlock the encrypted phone but to no avail. In a Senate panel, FBI Director James Comey made claimed how encrypted cellphones and other electronic devices can hinder investigations because they cannot be unlocked, even by the companies. The married couple who were a part of the terrorist attack were killed in a shootout with the police, so the FBI has no choice on how to open the phone but to go to the creator of the iPhone:Apple.
On February 25, Apple dismissed the court order to help the FBI. According to Apple, the FBI demanded the company to “write a software designed to weaken the security of its phones is without precedent”. If they were going to go through with this, Apple would have to develop a security-bypassing software that could be installed onto the shooter’s iPhone. With that, the FBI could break through the phone with ease and grab any data within the phone that could be valid information to them. According to Kim Zetter and Brian Barrett, two reporters from Wired, “If Apple can be forced to write code in this case to bypass security features and create new accessibility, what is to stop the government from demanding Apple from writing code to turn on the microphone in aid of government surveillance, activate the video camera, record conversations, or turn on location services to track the phone’s user? Nothing”. Overall, this Apple versus FBI is a slippery slope argument.
Multi-billionaire Bill Gates gave his opinion on the matter, and eventually sided with the FBI on the debacle. He stated in multiple interviews that it isn’t uncommon for phone companies to hand over customer information to investigators, he questioned why a company like Apple should be treated differently. In an interview with Financial Times, Gates stated: “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case.”
Apple has recently gone to court with the FBI over the device, stating that the judge who has originally ordered the company to help the FBI with the locked phone had violated the First and Fifth Amendment, which protects Apple from being forced to write code and nevertheless being forced to work the government at all.
The case is still going occurring today, but this question still stands: How will this situation affect today’s modern world? Well, if Apple does give into FBI’s demands, then this encryption software could be made. Hopefully it stays within government perimeters, because if this type of software gets leaked online, then anyone’s phone could easily be hacked.