An Apple a day keeps Big Brother away


Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Shannon Stroud,

On Tuesday, the FBI asked Apple to unlock the iPhone that belonged to suspect Syed Rizwan Farook in the San Bernardino shootings. On that same day, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook, publicly stated Apple would not unlock the iPhone for the benefit of the case. “We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” Cook stated in a public letter to Apple customers.

He couldn’t be more right. Apple refused to help the government put away a suspect in a mass murder trial and it’s a big deal.

Farook’s iPhone could be a lead towards terrorist organizations that were apart of the San Bernardino shootings which left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. The information on the phone also might bring closure to the friends and family of the deceased, maybe information would reveal why their loved ones were the victims of a terrible crime.

Instead of removing the passcode on the suspect’s iPhone, Apple kept their products secure to make sure their customers feel safe. But all of this begs the question: what’s more important to the American consumer — privacy or justice?

Media outlets have shamed Apple for leaving this horrific case open. They’ve also praised them for keeping customer security in mind.

Before you jump to conclusions about the company being a bad Apple, keep in mind that Apple is willing to help: when the FBI requested data from the suspect’s cloud storage, they provided it. Since 2008, Apple has helped the government unlock 70 iPhones — each of these phones ran on dated operating systems. In the newest operating system, unlocking the phone calls for a backdoor encryption.

It was when the FBI asked Apple to create a backdoor to the iPhone that the company said, “no way,” within the same day. The backdoor is an encryption that allows a user to unlock an iphone without the need for the passcode. That four to six digit password that you hold so dear would be able to opened immediately with a backdoor encryption. Any information, photos, credit card numbers that are held on your phone can be taken at anytime.

Farook’s iPhone 5C runs on the newest operating system. The difference between Farook’s case and the 70 other iphones, is that Farook’s phone would need a backdoor encryption.

“In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable,” explained Cook in his letter.

My daily life revolves heavily around my phone. There are days that I wish I wasn’t so attached to it, but the truth is that my phone has become an extension of me. It’s my main mode of communication, my daily intake of news and the only way I know how to efficiently organize my life. I applaud Apple for fighting for my privacy.

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr.
Graphic by Tam Duong Jr.

Creating a backdoor into Apple’s iPhone is not a one-and-done situation. Once the backdoor is created, it can easily be replicated and used on other phones. This is not a unique issue where the government uses this information only for this case. Once the backdoor is created, you can bet that it will be used in almost every court trial.

“And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control,” wrote Cook.

How would it feel to know, that at any moment of the day, for any suspicious behavior, your iPhone could be hacked and used against you in court? But it’s more than that. If this encryption is made, what will stop it from getting into the wrong hands? Phones are stolen all the time; if this code is out there and someone steals your iPhone, all those photos, passwords and credit card numbers are gone.

The Obama Administration has backed down from this dispute, by not requesting Apple to create a back door, but the privacy of our iPhones may disappear after Nov. 8, when we vote for a new president.

“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products,” wrote Cook. “And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

In a world where our computers get hacked and our phone calls are tapped, thank you Apple for fighting for our privacy.