On December 2nd, 2015, 14 people were gunned down in a mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino, California. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married couple that was responsible for the shooting, were gunned down after a shootout with the police. Investigators were able to obtain one of their iPhone 5c cell phones, and were given permission to retrieve all the data from inside it. However, the phone had been locked by a user-generated numeric passcode. The only thing is, the FBI doesn’t know what the code is, and after 10 failed attempts, the iPhone would be permanently wiped, thus defeating the purpose of obtaining the cell phone. That’s where our problem begins.
iCant Let You Do That.
The FBI has asked Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to help them essentially “break into” the iPhone that was retrieved from the crime scene of the San Bernardino shooting. Cook disagreed with the idea, and calls the matter “an overreach by the U.S government”. In a public letter, Cook goes on to explain that in order for them to do what the FBI wants them to do, they would have to develop software that would give them a “backdoor” into their products, primarily the iPhones. The software would basically be a “new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.” Cook then states that “in the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”
To sum it up, the FBI wants Apple to build a “master key” that could unlock any iPhone. If Apple complies with this, the government would be able to go into any iPhone with “brute force”, and could also demand Apple to create a surveillance software to intercept messages, access financial and health records, track your location, or even use your phone’s microphone and cameras without you knowing it. Cook has stated that he has cooperated with the FBI and the government and has “done everything that is both within our power and within the law” to help. However, developing technology like this would be very dangerous.
I give Tim Cook a lot of props on how he’s standing up for not only Apple and himself, but for all of the iPhone owners in the world. Let’s be real: almost EVERYONE has an iPhone (if you don’t, then none of this applies to you, and have fun not seeing emoji’s). That means that the government would be able to access millions and millions of people’s private information. You think someone looking through the pictures on your phone was nerve wrecking, how would you feel if the FBI knew where you were whenever you had your phone? The fact that they’re demanding a software like that to be made is scary, and is something that we should all take note of.
Sure, if the technology is created, the San Bernardino case would benefit greatly from it. My question is: was this the only type of crime/mass shooting (there was almost a shooting every day last year) where a cell phone was retrieved from the suspects? Did the Boston bomber not have a cell phone when they had him? As much as I’d love to agree with the FBI and say Apple should help them out, I see this as them looking for a reason for such a software to be developed. It’s like if you left your backpack in a classroom and had the janitor open the door for you, not knowing that you really just wanted to steal the answers for the SAT (it’s a hypothetical story, go with it). I sure as hell don’t want anyone snooping on my personal life without me knowing it, and neither should you. If said software is made, best believe I’m switching over to a Galaxy!