Apple has a great reputation for upholding the personal privacy of its customers. All of your iPhone data is secured with end-to-end encryption that no one can hack, not the government, not even Apple itself. Whatever your opinion of Apple and its products may be, your privacy is important to them and is something they will fight for. This has led to the current legal battle between Apple and the FBI.
After the horrific mass shooting late last year in San Bernardino, California, an iPhone belonging to one of the perpetrators was recovered by investigators and was believed to contain important evidence relating to the crime. Due to its advanced security features, the iPhone can’t be unlocked and the information on it is inaccessible.
In February, Apple was ordered to assist the FBI by creating a new software update that would have an open backdoor for them to break through the encryption and unlock the phone. Since this goes against the core values of the company, they are refusing to comply.
Apple’s argument is that creating a backdoor invites a whole host of privacy problems and would not only invite the government to be able to snoop through anyone’s secure information, but also allow other malicious parties to do the same. Once a backdoor has been opened, there is no closing it.
The FBI, of course, argues that criminals should not have the right to privacy and that as Americans, potentially sacrificing our personal privacy is a small price to pay for greater national security … something we have all heard before.
So far, many major tech companies, as well as several former NSA employees are siding with Apple, while other government and law enforcement bodies are siding with the FBI (no surprise there). President Obama has taken a weakly neutral view on the whole debate, calling for a compromise.
Security experts warn that the consequences of weakening encryption on private data could be devastating and leave every iPhone user on the planet vulnerable to identity theft, cyber terrorist attacks and other crimes. It is such a serious issue that many Apple employees have threatened to quit their jobs rather than comply with a legal order to create a backdoor, in the event that Apple loses their court battle. Building the new software update would take a lot of people and a lot of time, and if the software engineers rebel, it could put the whole project on indefinite hold and stretch into an even longer legal battle.
This is a major fight that could go on for ages, but it has real repercussions for everyone who uses technology and it’s definitely worth taking some time to understand what’s going on and following along with the latest developments. You can catch up with the story here.