Apple: Protecting a criminal to protect us all

Story by Ty Smith, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Mashable.com

Unless your head’s been buried in the sand the last few weeks, you’ve likely heard something about Apple taking on the FBI. Maybe you don’t know the specifics, but I’m sure you’ve seen a Facebook post on it, or glanced at a headline on BuzzFeed. For those who don’t know, the FBI has an iPhone that was used by Syed Farook, one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. They’d like to open up the phone to access the data, but they can’t — the device is locked, and Farook is dead. The FBI ordered Apple to break into the phone and give the government the passcode — Apple refused.

Seems ridiculous, right? It looks like a petty cut and dry case. All they have to do is break into the phone of a known terrorist who killed 14 people. Why on earth would anyone oppose that? That’s what I thought too, until I heard Apple’s argument.

Apple argues that breaking into this one phone would create a backdoor that could be exploited by any skilled hacker, putting any iPhone — around 35% of all smartphones in America — in great danger of being stolen. Even more, Apple worries that backing down on this case could encourage other governments and organizations to demand access to iPhones, too. Essentially, Apple is arguing that in order to protect the information and privacy of every iPhone user in the country, they must also protect the privacy and information of a terrorist.

It is a tough decision to make. Exactly how sacred is our right to privacy when it comes to cellphones and computers? Is it important enough to protect the privacy of a terrorist? As much as it pains me to say this, it is that important. The right to privacy is a fundamental right of the American people. The government must have limits on what they can do to gather data and information on its citizens — otherwise, it would be extremely easy for the government to abuse its authority and begin collecting on people who are only suspected of a crime, or worse yet, not suspected at all.

It’s not an unheard of to find politicians and those in powerful positions trailing political opponents to find information on them, and to use it against them. Nixon did this in the Watergate scandal. The FBI constantly trailed Martin Luther King, Jr., invading his privacy in order to find a reason, any reason, to lock him up. Political activists and enemies of powerful politicians have always had to fear individuals and even the government invading their privacy to attempt to blackmail them or arrest them.

Now imagine the government could access every bit of data on your phone — scary, isn’t it? That thing probably has more information on you than your entire house does. Phones nowadays are loaded with intimate conversations, our financial data, our health records, even the location of our kids. Now try to imagine, for a moment, a world where no political activist, no one who opposes the government in any capacity, can have any expectation that the information they store on their phones is safe. The government would certainly like that world. A free man would not.

About the Writer…

Ty SmithTy Smith is from a small town located in the thumb of Michigan. He loves writing, reading, music, and video games. He also believes that cats are better than dogs.


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