FBI takes a bite of the Apple


Apple recently denied the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice assistance to access the information on a found iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI  claims that Apple is hindering an ongoing investigation with U.S. national security concerning the December shooting and that Apple should comply and help break the iPhone’s passcode. It is unclear what exactly the FBI believes is on the phone that will help with the progression of the case.

In rebuttal to the Department of Justice, Apple is claiming that it is not right for the government to demand that a company violates the First Amendment especially when the benefits are unclear.

The argument here is not about unlocking a singular phone; it is about something much bigger. Apple is taking a stand for American democracy and the privacy of American citizens as a whole. By unlocking this one phone, it questions the standards and limitations of when it is okay to infringe on the privacy of others. In a letter to the public, Apple explained their reasoning for not allowing the FBI to access the information on the cell phone.

“We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country,” Apple’s letter said. “We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.”

If there was proof and evidence of exactly what was on this phone and how it would help the progression of the case, I would consider sympathizing with the FBI. The FBI has been very vague about what they are searching for, possibly for security reasons. Yet with no evidence or pull, it is hard to stand behind the FBI.

This case is also tricky because the shooters are already known. From an outsider’s perspective, the case seems closed. Knowing the conclusion of this case and that these people are no longer a direct threat to American civilization makes it hard to see the benefit in unlocking a cell phone.

Sophomore Alyssa Rodriquez shares how she sees both sides but ultimately agrees with the tech company’s decision.

“These situations are so hard because obviously we want to ensure national security and for everyone to be safe,” Rodriguez said. “It’s scary though because if this power fell in the hands of the wrong person it could be detrimental to so many people’s lives in such a scary way that I don’t know if it’s really worth it.”

The FBI is accusing Apple of using this situation as a marketing strategy by advertising the strength of privacy in Apple products. I think it is definitely possible that Apple is capitalizing on this opportunity to prove the high standards of their company. It seems odd for them to turn down helping the FBI as a promotional technique. I genuinely believe Apple understands the importance of privacy and respecting personal property and the information in their cell phones.

However, even if it was a marketing strategy, would that be so wrong? Apple is a company trusted by many that prides itself on the high profile security of their technology.

As a company, Apple is free to choose what they want to do and consider the repercussions of whatever decision they make. If Apple announced that they made a decision to comply with the FBI and create a weakened version of their operating system, many users would probably refuse software updates or any further upgrades with the company.

Junior Hannah Winterbottom understands the importance of allowing companies to play by their own rules and uphold their own standards.

“As a company, Apple has the right to keep withhold their customers privacy if that’s what they want to do,” Winterbottom said. “Even the FBI should not be able to force them to do anything.”

Adding to the conversation, Junior Bella Andrie shares the importance of protecting the privacy of American citizens.

“I don’t think the FBI should break into the phone if they do not know exactly what information is on there because then anyone could just say that anytime they want to get into something,” Andrie said. “It is ultimately an invasion of everyone’s privacy. If they come up with a code to break it anyone can get into anything all the time.”

Apple is constantly expanding the diverse use of iPhones and it is expected that in the near future iPhones will have the ability to replace passports and other valuable, important, and personal information. In short, the iPhone is taking over society. With this should come the increase in security and assurance that your information is private, not the opposite.

In opposition, Junior Jamie Borer shares why she believes the importance of national security trumps the protection of privacy.

“I think the FBI is way more powerful than Apple and that they should be able to be able to break into the phone in the case of a mass shooting,” Borer said. “I think since it’s pertaining to such a nationally known and tragic event, the FBi should be able to break into the phone.”

While there may be some security benefits of the FBI and national security having access to the information on personal cell phones, I do not think that the benefits outweigh the risks. As American citizens, we are allowed to expect that our personal information remains private. Once this trust barrier is broken, it will be incapable of being rebuilt.