The FBI versus Apple: Security versus privacy

By Jennifer Goetz
Nation & World Editor

The encrypted iPhone that belonged to Syed Farook, one of the attackers in the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings, has caused a legal battle between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple. The FBI requested a court order to ensure that Apple will help break into Farook’s phone, since it could potentially contain valuable information on him.

On Friday, Feb. 19, the Justice Department insisted that legal action be taken against Apple for refusing to cooperate with their investigation of the San Bernardino attack, the New York Times reported.

ABC News reported that the FBI wants Apple to disable the iPhone’s ability to lock someone out after 10 incorrect password attempts. This would enable the government to keep guessing the password to get through to Farook’s phone. The Justice Department may believe that Apple is thinking of its own “marketing strategy” before thinking of national security, according to the New York Times.

Apple fights against the government’s demands. AP Photo.
Apple fights against the government’s demands. AP Photo.

On Saturday, Feb. 20, Apple said that law enforcement officials missed the opportunity to back up the phone when they had the chance, according to CNN. Apple engineers insisted that had the phone been backed up onto a computer, they might have had more access to its content, CNN reported. However, this option was out of the question when the FBI attempted to change the iPhone’s password and was locked out.

According to CNN, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has explained to customers that in order to work with the FBI, Apple would have to develop new technology that would give them the ability to hack into an Apple iPhone. He sent a letter to his customers early on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and explained that prosecutors were demanding to have Apple engineer a “back door” that would allow the FBI to break into the iPhone.

The New York Times reported that prosecutors have argued that Apple has exaggerated the difficulty of creating this new technology and believe that this should be similar to an update.

The court battle between Apple and President Barack Obama’s administration has lead to a large dispute over two sensitive topics: privacy and security.

CNN reported that tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook are behind Apple, but many politicians, such as presidential candidate Donald Trump, are not.

An internet rights group, Fight for the Future, has sided with Apple in this dispute and plans to organize protests both nationally and internationally, according to ABC News. As of Saturday, Feb. 20, protests are being planned near FBI headquarters in favor of Apple’s policy for privacy.

Despite the circumstances, the Justice Department maintains that “This is not the end of privacy,”according to the New York Times.

Apple has until Friday, Feb. 26, to respond to in court, and according to CNN, this case could potentially appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.