Apple isn’t really known for being the bad boy of the tech world, but today the company is front and center when it comes to the U.S government’s bad list. Apple has opposed a federal court order demanding that the company write special software that allows the federal government in the United States to tap into Apple devices when needed.
This court order comes after Federal Bureau of Investigation asked Apple to provide the passcode for Apple devices belonging to San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook. The Bureau believes that the locked Apple devices might provide necessary and crucial communication information. Farook and his wife were both killed by police following the shootings, but the Apple devices the two used are still intact.
Why would a company like Apple refuse to unlock a phone that belonged to a terrorist? Apple argues that even if the phone and other devices contain vital information that the FBI might use to thwart other attacks, tapping into this phone or providing software that allows the FBI to easily access Apple devices elsewhere can put personal security at risk.
The U.S. government cannot access Farook’s Apple devices currently because of security features built into the devices. One such feature requires that a person wait a number of minutes before attempting to entering various passwords -- a real problem for the FBI agents that are trying to crack Farook’s passwords by trying multiple combinations.
A Hot Debate
Legal advocates through the United States are debating the Apple case hotly today. Some argue that allowing the government special access to software that can unlock any Apple device at any time violates personal rights. Others argue that terrorists like Farook do not have any rights.
Security engineers have also taken issue with the aforementioned court order stating that building such software into devices would break the trust that consumers have with a company like Apple. Apple devices are known for being extremely secure. Were the company to comply with the court order and build the requested software into every Apple device, consumers would no longer trust Apple or its devices.
An Uphill Battle
Even though Apple has appealed the court order, it doesn’t look like this is going to be an easy fight for the company. Many are against Apple’s decision to fight this government request. There are definitely two sides to this argument. Forcing Apple to provide security password software to government authorities in the United States might just ruin the company. On the other hand, the fact that Apple will not provide Farook’s password information or software that allows the government to tap into Apple devices elsewhere have already lost Apple a few followers.
It doesn’t look like Apple will win this fight. If Apple is forced to build the software requested, the same will be asked of other companies as well. This may, in the end, lead to a lot of Big Brother spying. Or, it could just mean that terrorist details and communications will finally be known.