Why Apple should NOT hack the iPhone for the FBI.

Posted on February 23, 2016
Filed Under America, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

cracked-phoneLaw enforcement would surely like the ability to be able to retrieve data from locked or encrypted cell phones of criminals.

Should Apple be forced to co-operate with the US Government and provide at a minimum the data from an encrypted / locked cell phone even if they don’t allow the FBI to crack the phone using methods they provide?

A reasonable person might say “Of Course” initially. Especially for terrorist charges. In this case a cell phone owned by the San Bernardino shooter.

Try to keep up. Lets discuss what this WILL lead to. Not what it might lead to, but where it must lead.

Apple creates new firmware allowing the phone to be accessed….because the court ordered it.  (But only for this particular case). The cell phone data is provided to the FBI. But not the software used to access the phone.

Precedent has been set. “Precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.

FBI now says we have many cases, IMPORTANT cases… but we can’t access the cell phone data…. (Note that all these cases may not be terror related, some may be drug related, or perhaps a serial killer, but it is IMPORTANT!). Argues that this has been accomplished before, citing the previous Precedent.

A court orders a cell phone provider to provide the data on the cell phones…one at a time to Apple, Samsung or whomever manufactured the cell phones.  NOTE that these are no longer all Terror related incidents..but they are IMPORTANT!

You can see in our hypothetical world, that the courts are now ordering data for lesser things than Terror or murder? Drug rings? What if the I.R.S gets a court order?  We would have to rely on a judge to filter these requests to see if they warrant violating someones right to privacy. All judges aren’t the same some are less worried about privacy. Sooner or later the code used to access the phone will be leaked. Then no ones data using that phone / OS would be safe.

Some will say that if you have nothing to hide it should not be an issue.

Your right to privacy is a major issue! If you are arrested and have nothing to hide then provide the access yourself to the police.

You lock or encrypt your phone because you have personal information on the device. If its stolen, your data is still safe.

What about incidental information on a phone. What if, unrelated to your current charge, you  perhaps received a text from a friend that he scored some dope. Can the police then investigate your friend?

That may be simplistic but I can certainly see it happening. Once you start allowing access where does it end? Surely at first it will just be terror charges….but will end up for more minor charges and just fishing by the police looking for anything illegal. Perhaps just entering the border to return home from abroad…your phone will be accessed?

I am not saying I am against criminals being arrested. I am saying that I am against violating a persons privacy to achieve it.

The ends do no justify the means. Not in the long run.

There is one case where I am in favor of cracking a persons phone.  If it might contain actionable information to save a life in an emergent situation. Such as a child is kidnapped by a group and one of the group is captured but won’t talk. Their phone could contain timely information needed to rescue the child.  Many very rational sounding cases can be created for exceptions.

The line has to be drawn somewhere. My fear is it will be drawn such that ones privacy is to easily violated.

UPDATE: After posting this Gawker had this to say. http://gawker.com/justice-wants-apple-to-unlock-at-least-twelve-other-iph-1760772528

Another UPDATE: Court rules in NY that Apple does not have to co-operate.
“Orenstein concluded that Apple is not obligated to assist government investigators against its will .”


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