Apple Vs. FBI


Nicole Pampena, Editor-In-Chief


After years of being accustomed to constantly carrying devices that have a good deal of personal information about us, the inevitable brick wall regarding the privacy of said devices has finally popped up.

What happened?

Over the past few weeks, Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been engaging in a heated legal battle over the ability to unlock the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters from San Bernardino back in December. The FBI claims complete access to this phone could potentially reveal vital information such as the period of time planning the attacks and who Farook was in contact with (possibly leading to the identities of other terrorists/terrorist groups). Apple is currently fighting back saying that the phone’s wireless backup cannot be accessed due to a password reset in the iCloud, thus needing to develop an entirely new software and iOS operating system in order to decrypt the phone. That’s not the only issue though; the software would essentially create a backdoor to the iPhone, and its release could threaten the privacy and lock of every iPhone in existence if that power somehow falls into the wrong hands.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The situation forces almost every American to choose: privacy or national security?

Apple’s rejections have earned them a vicious line of both insults and praise ranging from accusations of their company “helping the bad guys” to sighs of relief that it has such a well-protected security system. If we look at this from both sides, it’s a fairly balanced argument.

What if I support the FBI?

Those against Apple do so in justification that the software is necessary in the future if circumstances turn to needing information for counterterrorism or even hunting down a wanted criminal through his or her phone. A fast-acting way of predicting or preparing for further attacks within the United States (and eventually on a global scale) would prevent the deaths or permanent injury of any more innocents falling victim. If we take it up another notch, tapping into the right phone could reveal a breakthrough in the discovery of entire terrorist groups and their locations, leading to their demise. Technology is still considered a fairly new thing despite rapid advancements over the past decade and has yet to be introduced to assisting law enforcement to its fullest potential.

But what if I defend Apple?

Apple’s main concern seems to be the inability to erase the software “code” if created, which is a huge gateway for hackers and foreign intelligence to compromise us and put the country at risk. While the phone has to be in physical possession for the backdoor to work, simply developing a way to get past the company’s strongest security measures worries a good deal of the public (primarily iPhone users, of course). Others worry of a “slippery slope” or “domino” effect in which the right knowledge and tools could access any phone at any time, rendering passcodes and other protective features useless. Despite the aforementioned untapped potential of major companies like Apple teaming up with criminal investigation, the both the magnitude of their ability and the consequences are unknown.


I don’t have the time or energy to keep up with this. Just tell me how it ends.

While a wide range of outcomes is possible, the most easily foreseeable ones from a positive perspective include either making a revolutionary leap in counterterrorism or defending the civil liberty of having the right to one’s own privacy and property (their phone). On a more negative note, the victims of San Bernardino could possibly never seek justice from the attacks, a similar event could occur again, or every iPhone in the world could be subject to hacking and retrieval of every piece of information in it.

Take your pick.