Apple vs FBI – Who’s right?

Is Apple CEO, Tim Cook right in defying a court order to unlock an iPhone?

We’ll focus on the facts and opinions of each side in the video and further down in the post. But before saying you side one way or another please understand why the issue is contentious, because both sides make very valid arguments.

Tuesday evening, U.S. Judge Sheri Pym, ordered Apple to assist the FBI in hacking/unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters, Syed Farook, in tragic events in San Bernardino, California. In cases like these, law enforcement officials have accessed personal records, computers and phones, by way of search warrants, to get a better understanding as to how and why a person/persons would carry out such acts.

There are times when law enforcement specialists cannot access content on phones and computers. While those security features are probably more intended to stop hacking and theft it can also be used to keep your information safe from big brother’s prying eyes.

This is not the first time that law enforcement and tech firms have butted heads before to gain access to encrypted information. It is no secret that the FBI and NSA have been hiring away the best and brightest tech security minds to help assist in all things national security.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are running into more intensive mobile encryption, making it nearly impossible to unlock a device without having the right information.

It makes sense that these devices are more secure. After all, our mobile devices often carry a lot of information, where we’ve been, pictures we’ve taken, files, notes, emails, contacts, messages, medical data, biometrics, etc. A lot of personal data, and in turn, breadcrumbs and correspondence that can definitely aid in any investigation. Which is why it is so important for law enforcement to know what is on Syed Farook’s iPhone. In this case, prosecutors want to know who the couple had communicated with before and after the shooting and where they had gone.

So, Judge Sheri Pym’s order was to create and deliver special software to the FBI to load on the iPhone and bypass iOS’s security feature that freezes up or erases the phone after too many unsuccessful attempts at the passcode. After that process the FBI can run through as many unlock attempts it wishes.

iPhone-TouchID-B

The Department of Justice is asking for assistance on just this one device and to build in a “unique identifier” so it can’t be used on other phones, which the White House has come to support to reassure the public that this would be a one-time scenario. However, no one can say for sure if this could be used again in future cases.

But based on legal precedence, one could argue that it wouldn’t be out of the realm of legal needs to ask for such requests in the future. What’s to say the next terrorist attack would warrant the same action, or a serial murderer, or … or whatever else the courts determine as a “reasonable request.” Remember in the law, precedence is what sets future decisions in motion.

Though, how does this vary from a search warrant? The Justice Department wants to consider a phone in the same category as any records you keep at home, and there is definitely validity to that claim. If the intent of the law is to gain access to information, why would the medium matter? Good question.

That’s why Tim Cook penned his letter in response to Judge Pym’s orders. While Apple has complied thus far, Tim Cook has said this new request is overreaching and while the intent of the law may be to get access to one just device, Apple sees the Judge’s request possibly setting a dangerous precedent. He’s correct. Tim Cook compared this action like “a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

“Reasonable” – That’s what’s at debate now, the court has ruled that the request for Apple to assist in creating this backdoor is entirely “reasonable” while Apple is claiming that this request is “unreasonably burdensome.”

Legal precedence is both beautiful and dangerous. That’s why we have these debates and these conversations. Before you react and say one action is wrong or right, take the time to research the facts outside each side’s opinions. Ultimately both sides are right, but both sides have come to an impasse.

So what say you? Civil liberties and personal privacy vs. national security and public safety. The argument on both sides are valid, who’s in the right? What should be the correct course of action?

FBI wants to know more...

Law

Apple opposes court order to unlock gunman’s iPhone for FBI

Apple CEO Tim Cook has penned an open letter to protest a court order demanding the company unlocks an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino shooting. The FBI wants Apple to create a backdoor in iOS, which it refuses to do. United States magistrates judge Sheri Pym, citing the […]

Apple Patents Android-Inspired Pattern Unlock Gestures

Two new Apple patents filed in 2012 and approved on Thursday detail the company’s interest in developing an Android-style lockscreen in place of the PIN code security still offered on iOS. Both patents cover what Apple calls “Gesture entry techniques,” with one focused on specific types of gestures while a second describes how the feature […]

CIA “waged secret campaign” to break into Apple devices

New data provided to The Intercept by Edward Snowden shows that the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had a secret initiative with a single goal: to hack into Apple’s iOS-powered devices for snooping on end users. Details of the CIA’s campaign were provided through leaked paperwork from an intelligence conference called “Trusted Computing Base Jamboree,” […]

DOJ to shed light on cellphone spying strategies

The Department of Justice will publicly reveal more information on the government’s use of cellphone tracking programs, such as Stingray, and will review existing programs, according to a new report on Monday. The strategy is to be more transparent with the U.S. public, it seems. According to The Wall Street Journal, officials with the Department of Justice […]

FBI Can Access Your Computer’s Camera Without You Knowing

Did you hear the one about the FBI being able to activate your computer’s built-in camera without you knowing? That’s not a joke—a new report from The Washington Post claims the agency has the ability to have its own secret Web cam show “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording.” So, […]

FBI Doesn’t Like iOS 8 and Android Encryption Features

Apple and Google are both touting new security features inside iOS 8 and Android L. The former makes it much harder for authorities to gain access to parts of your phone, like iMessage and Mail, while the latter will start to ship with encryption enabled out-of-the-box later this fall. The FBI doesn’t like this added […]

Law

FBI Fails to Crack Pimp’s Pattern Unlock, Requests That Google Help

When you’re a company like Google, it’s never good when the FBI comes knocking. But never would the search giant have expected such an outlandish inquiry made by the government agency. Apparently, forensics experts from within the FBI have failed to gain access to a Samsung Exhibit II, all because of Android’s pattern unlock. Why […]



Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...