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Apple Refuses to Threaten Data Security of Users

February 20, 2016

On February 16th, Apple made a pretty big announcement in a letter to their customers, that stirred up some conflict with the FBI. Many fear that Big Data could turn into Big Brother, but Apple is determined to not let this happen; they have put their foot down and refused to compromise the data security and privacy of their customers.. In case you didn’t read about it, I will briefly fill you in.

It all started with last year’s terror attack in San Bernardino, California. During the investigation, conducted by the FBI, the iPhone of one of the shooters was discovered. Naturally, they wanted to get as much info about the shooter as possible, but the iPhone was protected by a password. The FBI turned to Apple. Apple worked with the FBI, even provided them with assistance from Apple engineers, and did all that they could to assist the FBI in their investigation, but as part of Apple’s security measures, they lack the ability to unlock their own phones.

They defend this decision in their Letter to their Customers. “For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”

In response, the FBI asked Apple to update it’s operating system in order to unlock this particular device. Initially, it is my understanding that Apple was attempting to delay the process, but when a judge ordered them to unlock the phone earlier in the week, Apple was forced to take action. The action they took? Putting their foot down, and saying, “no.”

The FBI insists that this is a case when citizens’ privacy should be compromised in the name of national security; and this backdoor would be built for just this one iPhone. However, Apple makes the good point that once this is done once, it can be done over and over again. They describe it as, “In today’s digital world, the ‘key’ to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revolved, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

This would simply jeopardize the company’s privacy promise to it’s customers and users. But now, the FBI is attempting to bypass legislative action by proposing the unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify the expansion of their authority, to get Apple to create this iOS update.

I believe there are two major reasons why this is dangerous, and why it is admirable that Apple is refusing to follow the FBI’s requests. 1) This could ultimately jeopardize our personal and global security even more. If this technology gets into the wrong hands and is used for harm, what happens then? Will the FBI still think it’s worth it? 2) America would cease to be the free country as we know it. Tim Cook end’s Apple’s Message to Customers strongly, ” And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

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