Smartphones have been a great advancement in technology and in society. Like any other tool they help us with our daily tasks such as keeping us close to public safety officials, allowing us the ability to transfer money that helps us manage our lifestyles, and being able to check the safety of our families with a push of a button. Having the ability to talk to someone miles away has made life convenient and full of contentment for modern day people. It is safe to say that the phone is one of the most important tools ever made along with electricity, the telescope, and the wheel. The practice of sending information has been a valuable assist to forming society since the renaissance. To be able to inform people can be the difference between life and death in a state of war. The phone is another staple to humanity such as U.S presidents are to the development of America.
However, not all presidents are helpful -to the well-being of the country as such not all uses of phones are beneficial to our daily lives. Recently phones have been the bane of our daily progression as we constantly check our phones as we work. Our phones have been given as much responsibility to their owners as their owners’ function in society. Moreover phones help us get things done. Now think for a moment about how someone could use that tool that helps you with getting things done with different intentions for its uses than to its owner’s purpose.
There you have an issue; the privacy of one’s belongings is one of the most sought-after luxuries humanity has set for itself. The foundation of America was fought for the individual privacy to practice any religion. Forward two hundred and forty years into the future and we find us with a similar conflict with individual ownership boundaries.
Most recently this conflict has been brought to light with news of terrorism in America. In 2015, a terrorist attack occurred in San Bernardino, California. The terrorist attack was a mass shooting carried out by a Pakistani couple that aimed their sights at a San Bernardino county department of public health Christmas party, where 16 people were killed and 24 people suffered non-fatal injuries. After being pursued the couples were killed in a shootout with police. In all, a total of 40 people were harmed with the intent of causing terror in America. While investigating the remains of the couple, the FBI found an Apple IPhone that is understood to hold information on the couples’ activities.
The modern day conflict with privacy was that the FBI wanted Apple to open the IPhone encrypted system to investigate the information that it holds. How does one feel when their government pursues access to one of the most powerful tools in the current age? Giving the FBI that kind of power is a serious bridge of trust. The FBI has made a case with the Department of Justice that would put Apple in the position to hold responsibility of the phones property having been the manufacturer. Apple being the entity that it is was adamant to allow the case to follow through without debate first. The company stands against the FBI when considering how much power they could give the government with just one case to decrypt a single iPhone.
Beyond this instance the government can use this knowledge to perform whatever surveillance deemed useful, which is a lot of power. The debate over whether Apple can be held accountable for its products second party uses after developing an issue with a third party can show the conflict of interest between the American people and the consumers of technology.
The rights of Americans have been the country’s most treasured pursuit. To able to live in such a free nation has put a lot pressure on the government to protect our life styles. Our values as Americans have made us a target for terror to instill disbelief in our liberty. However, as Americans we stand together against those who oppose our rights. When analyzing the events at San Bernardino we understand that those who disagree with our way of life use it to their advantage to pursue a reality that does not already surround them. The FBI has made a request with the department of justice that would alert the world of technology consumers. A request that requires Apple to access information on an iPhone used by a terrorist. This request has brought the question of private security verse public security to the public.
Yaozong Ma in his article “Apple’s Conundrum: The Immutability of Liberty vs. Security,” claims “A cornerstone of the FBI’s argument was the All Writs Act which allowed courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” Essentially, All Writs Act provides justification and authorization for courts to craft, enact, and implement orders which compel individuals to perform acts provided that reasoning is both necessary and legal. This shows that the FBI believes that they have the legal means to ask for assistance from a third party.
Craig Timberg and Greg Miller in their article “FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones,” report the motives of FBI Director James B. Comey wanting Apple to comply with their request. Comey states that, “He could not understand why companies would market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.” His reasoning is based on the assumption that apple only caters to the top percent of people who can afford their products. Protecting their private information is what made their company so great to their customers. He defends his stance on protecting the public; moreover it is such a hard stance he forgets that private privacy is just as important to the public. Apple has been known to sell the most exclusive hardware since the beginning of their company. Handling this situation can predict the future of the company.
Felix Wu in his article, “No Easy Answers in the Fight over iPhone decryption.” examples why the FBI’s request is undeserved of a warrant. He states, “Apple’s primary constitutional argument was that compelling its assistance would violate the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. The argument is seductively simple, almost syllogistic. Step one: courts have previously recognized computer code as a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Step two: the Supreme Court has long held that the government can violate the First Amendment not only by restricting someone’s speech, but also by compelling someone to speak. Ergo, forcing Apple to write code that it did not want to write would be compelling it to speak, in violation of the First Amendment.” No company should be forced to be responsible for the fallout caused by their product. The company itself has no connection to the events that lead to the creation of the warranted evidence.
Rebecca Knight, in her article “National Security or Consumer Privacy, A Question even Siri couldn’t answer.” states several other reasons as to why Apple should not be involved with a FBI Investigation. She claims, “Apple’s argument was that Congress, not the courts, should determine when a third-party must be compelled to assist in investigations conducted by the government. Apple contended that if the technology that the Government wants were to be created, millions of people would be at risk of having their personal data hacked at no fault of their own but rather as a consequence of Farook’s act of terrorism.” Knight believes, “Legally, Apple argues that the Order had no statutory basis and violated the Constitution. First, Apple contended that its connection to the underlying case was too far removed to compel assistance.” According to Apple, the technical assistance sought would be much more vast and complicated than simply pushing a few buttons, as the Government seemed to believe. Apple argued that the Government did not demonstrate that Apple’s assistance was necessary to effectuate the warrant. Moreover, the Government made no showing of whether or not it sought or received technical assistance from other federal agencies with expertise in digital forensics, which could negate the need for Apple to create a backdoor into the iPhone. This lack of motivation allows Apple to devalue the FBI’s request for assistance. Next, Apple argued that compliance with the Order would violate the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Specifically, the Government asked the court to compel Apple to write new software that would eliminate safety features built into the iPhone in response to consumer. Knight continued by saying, “Apple contends that the Order amounted to compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination. Under established law, computer code is treated like speech within the meaning of the First Amendment. Thus, whenever the Government seeks to compel speech, the First Amendment is triggered. Compelled speech can only be upheld if it is narrowly tailored to obtain a compelling state interest. In this instance, the Government could not meet this high standard. Finally, Apple argued that investigating terrorism was a legitimate interest; the government only produced speculative evidence that Farook’s iPhone might contain relevant information. Without the right boundaries to connect Apple to investigation, complying with the FBI should to be a business transaction rather than a court order. However, Apple has no plans with allow the FBI to gain access to their encryption code. They wish to stand alone as an American company trying to protect the privacy of the American people.”
In addition, new developments in the San Bernardino case, days before the trail gave the FBI a different path towards unlocking the IPhone. The FBI was contacted by a third party who discovered a new method of accessing the information on the IPhone linked to the terrorist. Now that the FBI has the knowledge to unlock iPhone, they can apply this information to other suspected cases of terrorism. However with this new development does Apple have the grounds to ask the FBI to explain their weakness in their hardware.
The bottom line is that tech company’s care about their customer’s option on the matter of private privacy. The public understands the need for a relaxed state of ownership when buying a piece of hardware. We live in a free country after all, can’t that freedom extend further than just the grounds we walk on. Our phone and the space within our phone is the new wild west of our country. This time is a new era for the government to explore the constitutional rights of a new land, the land of technology. The government was not able to push Apple into complying with the FBI’s investigation and took a stand against the superpower that is our government. If Apple were to comply with our government, who’s to say china would not ask for the same type of assistance with an investigation. If we cannot trust our country with our issues it is safe to say that it is not right for any company to comply with a government whose ambitions are ambiguous.
Yaozong Ma. “Apple’s Conundrum: The Immutability of Liberty vs. Security.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Review | IJHSSR. 8 Oct 2016. Web. 8 Nov 2016. <http://www.ijhssrnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2.pdf >.
Craig Timberg and Greg Miller. “FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones.” Columbia Public Schools / Home. 25 Sep . Web. 8 Nov 2016. http://www.cpsk12.org/cms/lib8/MO01909752/Centricity/Domain/5012/FBI%20blasts%20Apple%20Google%20for%20locking%20police%20out%20of%20phones.pdf
Felix Wu. “Law and Technology No Easy Answers in the Fight Over iPhone Decryption .” Sep 2016. Web. 10 Nov 2016. http://static1.squarespace.com/static/52095f5de4b0bc18c96d1924/t/57d6075944024343d19e1fc5/1473644381121/Wu+-+2016+-+No+easy+answers+in+the+fight+over+iPhone+decryption%282%29.pdf>
Rebecca Knight. “National Security or Consumer Privacy? A Question Even Siri Couldn’t Answer.” University of Cincinnati College of Law Scholarship and Publications | University of Cincinnati College of Law Research. Sep 2016. Web. 10 Nov 2016. <http://scholarship.law.uc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=ipclj>.