Monday, February 22, 2016

Why won't Apple just unlock that iPhone?

Unless you've been living under a rock or (or you don't have an iPhone), you might have heard that the FBI really wants needs Apple, the manufacture of the iPhone that the San Bernardino terrorists used for their horrific attack in 2015.   Apparently, they cannot hack the phone (although, in a VERY interesting twist of fate, America's most wanted "traitor" says he may be able to help).  I am wondering if they Googled the issue, or asked their friendly Genius Bar man.  I swear they once told me how to bypass the code.

Why won't they just do it? For the victims and the families of the victims?!

I cringe to say this, but it's a slippery slope.  The masses are currently outraged that Apple won't do it in this case... but hold on.  There is no urgency here.  The damage is done.  The suspects are dead. They acted alone.  Who benefits from Apple creating new technology specifically for the government to use "just this once?"  Answer: the Government.  They would have the tool to hack all iPhones, and that is the problem.  

The Court of Public Opinion tends to fuel what we as a society through our government should and should not do.   If we have another domestic terror attack, the public outcry may lead to many individuals losing their civil rights.  Or will it? 

The case for the technology:

Apple made a solid product.  The Founding Fathers also made a solid product.  The Constitution protects us from unlawful search and seizure.  Therefore, the police need warrants to search your phone based on probable cause that something related to your alleged crime is in the phone.  (Free legal advice: Never consent to a search and never give your passcode or passwords).  

So if the police have gone through the proper channels, then your rights aren't being violated.  The problem is that they simply can't do it alone.  Should we help?  No one has to, but if someone like Apple wanted to, they certainly could.  But they do not. 

The problem remains:

Apple is a private company. They have politely declined to help.  Sorry, FBI.  So this issue is no longer about the privacy of the iPhone owner, but the privacy and freedom of the private company to act or choose not to act.  I fail to see how forcing anyone (companies are "people" too) to help the government is OK.  The battle wages on.  But it will be shocking to see if Apple is ordered to act and will create a very scary precedent if it happens. 

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