Apple vs fbi. Iphone unlocking controversy

The San Bernardino attack that Syed Rizwan Farook executed and killed 14 people sparked a legal controversy between Apple and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. As FBI attempted to trace the movements of the suspect and his wife eighteen minutes after the attack, it needed to access his iPhone data. However, owing to the latest Apple encryption technology on iPhones, FBI could not access the data. In a bid to access Farook’s iPhone data, FBI enlisted the help of Apple who vehemently opposed the move in defense of consumer privacy policy (Arjun, 2016). In regard to the increasing threat of terrorism and radicalization, FBI and other government agencies are making efforts to work with technology firms to track suspects and bring them to justice with incriminating evidence. On the other hand, the threat of cybercrime has compelled telecommunication technology firms to develop security codes and encryptions that protect the private data of the user. The case of FBI and Apple therefore set an intriguing battle that require critical thinking in the interest of public security, human rights, and government role in countering terrorism and related felonies. The sensitive of security matters versus emphasis on the consumer privacy presents a policy dilemma that was evident in the Apple and FBI controversy.

Critical assessment of the controversy exposes the underlying complexity of reconciling corporate policy and national security agency’s duties. According to the latest iPhone technology, ten unsuccessful attempts on password automatically erase the saved data. Such kind of encryption is meant to protect the user of the iPhone in case of attempted hacking or unauthorized access. FBI had initially tried to reset password to the icloud in an effort to access data but the result was the exact opposite. They could no longer access the data and had one option; to persuade Apple into unlocking. Apple argued that creating a new code that would help unlock the iPhone would set a dangerous precedence and breed irreparable risk of privacy violation (Arjun, 2016).

The steady pressure coming from government to spy on individual activities on the phone has necessitated the technology firms to develop sophisticated barrier. Privacy of the user is invaluable and informs the manufacturer’s customization and security concept (Hayden,2017). Apple’s position on this controversy considered the possibility of dealing with other countries that have consistently pushed to monitor private communication on phones. China is on the spot over its constant campaign to access the private communication and other activities on the phone. In that case, Apple’s position on the unlocking controversy was based on the precedence that would lead to mass government interference with human rights through privacy infringement.

The court directed Apple to provide necessary technical assistance to the FBI to secure data on the iPhone. However, the technology industry was solidly behind Apple as the unlocking would encourage similar cases in which ongoing and prospective legal proceedings call for the private data stored on phone. Besides, Apple argued that it would be required to write a uniform unlock code for all iPhones which would be uneconomical (Arjun, 2016). On the other, law enforcement agencies argue that the encryption technology like the one Apple developed is an obstruction to judicial process. The Apple versus FBI controversy is therefore just but a case study of the brewing policy war that characterizes the working relationship between technology firms and government in prosecution of criminals.

Although the case was withdrawn after FBI got the iPhone unlocked by a third party, the issue remain contentious. FBI claimed that some technology firm in Israel helped unlock the iPhone (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2016). Such a new development caused panic on Apple as this was an indication of security loopholes on its part. Besides, there was possibility that government may finance creation of a back door unlocking mechanism that would expose the users to the spies. The question that licit mixed reactions among scholars, public and the government is whether privacy policy overrides the threat of terrorism (Hayden, 2017). In respect of the controversy under discussion, the government was partially right to demand Apple assistance that would help in bringing the terrorist into justice and mitigating such activities in the future. Besides, the terror networks and radicalization cells are propagated through modern telecommunication technology. Accessing the data on such gadgets as iPhone is helpful in tracing the associates of the suspected terrorists and unearthing others in the cycle (Bairaktarova & Eodice, 2017). On the other hand, government increased trespass into the privacy of phone users is considered an infringement to human rights. Besides, there is possibility of spies and other government agencies to stifle politically dissenting voices, blackmail and other unethical practices through wiretapping of the telephone communications.

Neither of the party in the controversy won (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2016). However, the ability of a third party to successfully unlock the phone is warning sign to the Apple to do much and provide a watertight protection of private data of the user (Bairaktarova & Eodice, 2017). On the other hand, the government and technology firms need to create a proper security policy that help in investigations and protect data of individuals in the interest of national security and consumer privacy.

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