After the recovery of an iPhone belonging to one of the attackers of the San Bernardino shooting on December 2, 2015, which killed 14 people, a federal court ordered the multinational technology company to help the F.B.I. unlock the password-protected device on February 15.
The F.B.I. demanded Apple create a version of the iOS software that would essentially become a backdoor for the iPhone—they want the company to provide them with a version of the iOS software that bypasses the current software security system. However, creating the software would undoubtedly create a way for the F.B.I. to obtain the information stored on the attacker’s phone or anyone else’s phone.
Apple responded in an open letter on Wednesday, February 16 resisting the government’s demands. In this letter, they wrote the following:
“In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.
The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”
Apple’s response to the court order fueled debate over who is in the wrong. The F.B.I. is demanding Apple to create a software with the potential of catastrophic effects if the software reaches hackers, terrorists, and other criminals. It is understandable why Apple has taken such precautions.
The multinational technology company has no way to tell the government’s use of the destructive technology would be limited, and with past leaks, such as the Edward Snowden and William Binney incidents, the government has grown unpredictable and untrustworthy. Because of this, the majority of the public opinion was issued with Apple.
On March 28, the F.B.I. revealed they no longer required Apple’s assistance with the locked iPhone. The Department of Justice said the F.B.I. accessed the information on the terrorist’s phone with the help of an unnamed third party. However, the question still stands: should there be a software capable of unlocking any iPhone in anyone’s possession? Would making this software be safe?
Nowadays, it is easier to be afraid or suspicious of the government’s intentions. With the invention of this software, the F.B.I. is comprising the public’s secrets and personal information that could potentially cause other serious problems to arise. Nevertheless, everyone is entitled to their privacy, and that shouldn’t be taken away from us.