February 20, 2016
The FBI has a court order that would force Apple to create special software that would allow the agency to get into an encrypted word iPhone that was used by one of the two terrorists involved in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Apple is fighting the court order. Here’s why you should hope they win.
Your smart phone is a mini computer packed with sensitive data
Many people shrug off the idea of police or government officials having access to their phone or computer because they believe they lead mundane, law-abiding lives. But if you think about it, there is a lot of stuff you would likely prefer to keep to yourself. Some examples:
- Contacts: You would not only give up information about yourself, but also friends, relatives and colleagues.
- Photos: Yes, even those ones you didn’t dare post on Instagram.
- Purchases: Think about all the books you’ve ever bought — were any of them politically incorrect?
- Dealings with the government: It might turn out that you owe more income tax than you thought you did.
This doesn’t just affect bad guys
If Apple creates this special software for the FBI, there is no guarantee they won’t use it on other phones as well. How would we ever know? Also, what’s to prevent this program from slipping out into the wild where it could be used by criminals? All it would take is a corrupt insider or a sloppy technician.
This isn’t just a problem for the United States
If the FBI gets its way, it will be just a matter of time before law enforcement agencies in other countries demand the same. Even totalitarian states such as China have so far been holding back. Success by the FBI will open the floodgates. In Canada, you can bet the RCMP and CSIS are very interested in the outcome of this case.
Apples’s best interests align with those of the public
A big part of Apple’s business is selling hardware and software. We give them money and in return we own what we paid for and can do with it as we please. Companies such as Google and Facebook offer “free” services, but we have to give up some of our privacy in return. This may be acceptable in some cases, but it’s good to at least have the option of doing business with a company that is willing to stand up to the government to protect our privacy.