Apple Sets the Stage for a Much Needed Privacy Debate

Apple Takes on The FBI and Privacy

Recently, the director of FBI, James Commy, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the encryption developed for the iOS platform was “overwhelmingly affecting” the course and progress of various investigations. He was referencing to the case involving shooter Syed Farook form San Bernardino whose Apple smartphone was not accessible because the FBI had failed to unlock it.

Farook and his wife had open fired at an occasion for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health and were killed in a shootout with the police force. The FBI was trying to tap into their smartphones for any clues about any links that they might have with other terrorist organisations.

Farook’s phones were being operated on iOS 8, which was revealed after a U.S. Federal judge asked Apple to aid in the investigations. The verdict drew instant action from Tim Cook, who revealed that Apple would be opposing the verdict on the grounds that it went against the right to individual privacy as provided by the encryption.


This encryption or individual privacy versus law enforcement debate is something that had had ruffled many feathers since Snowden’s scandalous revelation of the huge surveillance programs of the NSA and other governmental agencies, which showed how they were watching over some of the biggest names in the technological world.

This sent customers in a tizzy. They became more conscious about the privacy of their personal data. One of the biggest companies to raise their voice on such an occasion was Apple, and they developed a new encryption for iOS devices that made it almost impossible to crack the code if users lost their password.

A Word To The Wise

A similar level of obligation for customer privacy was shown by the company in the above-mentioned case. In a letter to their consumers, Apple said that although they were deeply outraged by this “deadly act of terrorism” and wanted “justice for all the lives lost”. Yet, they still wouldn’t comply with the directives of the FBI, because such software, if it fell into the “wrong hands”, would “have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession” and thereby “create a backdoor”.

They have vowed to comply with the subpoenas and search warrants as issued by the FBI, and also said that they have made “Apple engineers available” to help the FBI in any way possible. Tim Cook in this very open letter also said that such an order was a threat to the security of customers and that it demanded public discussion and negotiation in order to arrive at a suitable conclusion.

Such an open opposition for the judicial orders by Apple definitely sets the arena for a much-needed mobilization of public opinion. As Cook ends in his letter, such demands can irreversibly “would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Renee Biana

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