The FBI finds attempt to push Apple on security fruitless
On February 9th the FBI reached an impasse. It was unable to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the shooters of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. FBI director James Comey criticised phone encryption, and specifically Apple, claiming it was obstructing the FBI’s investigation. Ironically, the FBI approached the tech giant and asked it to create a newer operating system that would grant them access, but subsequently disable certain security features. Apple said no and the FBI issued a court order, in an attempt to force Apple to change its position. One month later and the FBI can now see how ineffective its claims were and as a consumer I am pleased to see one of the world’s biggest brands fighting to protect my privacy.
When the dispute came to light, Apple immediately came under immense scrutiny but support from tech firms and high profile individuals has given it a much needed advantage. Just last week New York judge James Orenstein ruled that the government cannot simply force Apple to unlock the phone. The US Congress dubbed the court case a “fool’s errand” and tech firms Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T, Twitter and many more voiced support for Apple.
The tech industry has stood united on the privacy issues this case has raised. As many others have stated, succumbing to government pressure would only weaken the security of all phones and negatively affect millions of users. Cracking into one phone would provide the gateway to do so with others. This debate isn’t about a single phone but the security of one of the world’s biggest mobile creators. Apple has faced criticism from influential individuals – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and David Cameron – and both sides will no doubt continue the argument beyond the court case.
Importantly, Apple standing its ground against the FBI is an important victory for phone users around the world. It’s reassuring to know that Apple is willing to fight against the government for users like me and you, and that it is not alone, as the biggest tech firms in the world also share this opinion. There is no doubt that security is central to the legal dispute and therein lies the FBI’s problem. The FBI shot themselves in the foot by enforcing a court case. The universal support that Apple has gained shows how important encryption is to tech firms and their consumers; without encryption companies become vulnerable and users become compromised. As with all companies, users are the most important stakeholder and Apple have shown its desire to protect its consumer base because it understands just how important they are. It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds but for now, I am reassured to know my information will remain secure, as long as Apple continues to maintain its stance on privacy.