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General / February 22, 2016

Apple and Privacy, Is Apple Right?

I have been reading, as many of you have, about Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, defying a court order to have Apple break into a locked iPhone. The locked phone was owned by the terrorists, who recently went on a killing spree in California. The terrorists themselves were also killed in the mayhem. The FBI tried to access the phone using their computer program, which uses thousands of code combinations to “hack” into cell phones. All of that is well and good, but the problem is that Apple’s iPhones can be programmed by its owner to wipe the phone clean after 10 unsuccessful attempts to unlock the phone. The FBI’s programmers could not get around this “encryption” type technology. Thus, they sought and were granted a warrant by the Court to force Apple to unlock the device. Tim Cook said “NO”. A showdown now is imminent; the FBI versus Apple.

There are people who believe that Apple should give the FBI what it wants and unlock the phone. There are people who believe that forcing Apple to give the FBI access to that phone via a computer program opens the door for more government involvement in privacy of every day citizens phones; i.e. give the government the key to the iPhone and they will perform more searches of phones, not less.

Although, I question Apple’s motives, I do not question its decision. There are times when people and companies simply have to take a stand against governmental intrusion. I believe that this is one of those times. First, we know who these terrorists were. They were apprehended and killed. Second, there are other means by which to search who the terrorists were in contact with before the attack. Third, the FBI cannot guarantee, nor would it, that the technology that Apple would turn over to them would be safe from misuse, either by the government or by other hackers.

Right now, we the people, are under assault from multiple directions when it comes to privacy. The NSA has virtually scanned every phone record from every citizen and non-citizen that it could. It’s computer banks and computer programs cast a wide net, that the founders of our constitution would likely not approve. Moreover, computer and phone hacking to steal identities of people and financial records is at an all time high. Billions of dollars are lost as a result of security issues with phones and computers. These dollars are not only hard “out of pocket costs,” but consist of additional money spent to fix hacked systems from additional attacks.

I personally think that the FBI is wrong on this issue. Investigate? Sure. But force a company to develop technology to be used by the government to defeat the company’s privacy features in this case is wrong. One thing we have learned from history is that governments never voluntarily relinquish power or control. We have slowly eroded most of our cherished privacy. In this case, there is little else to gain. The FBI admits as much.

We the people should be able to have some privacy, especially when the majority of us do all we can do to be good honest citizens. So, go Apple. Tell the FBI “no.” At least someone is finally taking a stand against overreaching and doing it through the court system, as opposed to stealing documents and defecting, ala Edward Snowden.

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