Apple is Fighting Back Against the FBI to Protect Your Privacy
An apple a day apparently doesn’t keep the FBI away. Apple, the tech company that created the product you’re probably reading this on, has become embroiled in the biggest tech/government clash since the “fast lane” Internet speed controversy last year. In the aftermath of the grizzly San Bernardino shooting last year that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a holiday party, the government has become dead set on forcing Apple to unlock the data on one of the shooters’ iPhone 5C phones. This last time this much fighting erupted over an iPhone 5C, it was when your friend’s kid got the phone in yellow instead of pink for their birthday. The difference, of course, is that the implications from this fight will go on to affect everyone who uses a smartphone, which is set to be about 6.1 billion people by the year 2020.
The issue at the heart of the battle is that one of the shooters, Rizwan Farook, had an iPhone that may have critical information about the terrorist cell he and his partner in crime, Tashfeen Malik, may have been in contact with. The FBI has already been given the phone’s most recent iCloud backup, but it’s from a whole month before the attacks. All data in the month leading up to the shooting is contained within the phone and, because of Apple’s encryption settings, causes the phone to erase its data if ten incorrect passwords are entered. This doesn’t bode well for the FBI’s hunt for information since Farook apparently didn’t make his password a birthday or spell out “password” like everyone else does.
The FBI has attempted to force the tech giant into releasing the information based on a ton of legal jargon supported by a law made when people still churned butter and sealed with a legal order from the courts to hand over the data. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook has come through with a resounding “fuck that” to the demands and released an open letter on the company’s website that details why they’ve decided not to comply. The issue they’re fighting against isn’t protecting terrorists or a marketing strategy, as some have suggested. It has to do with what they’d need to create for the FBI in order to share Farook’s data.
They want Apple to create a new operating system that circumvents security features and creates a backdoor that could theoretically be used on any phone. That’s a threat not only to user security in the US, but also in China, which is their second-largest market. If the technology was created and fell into the wrong hands, it would be the real life equivalent of Plankton getting the secret formula for the Krabby Patty but instead of stealing the patent for a delicious burger, it would give anyone access to all of our data at their whim. I don’t want spies and government’ officials to see my nudes unless I’m sliding into their DMs dick-first.
Now that Apple has begun what’s sure to be an ugly legal battle with the US government, other tech giants have stepped in to show their support. Facebook and Twitter’s CEOs have released statements on their respective sites commending Cook on his position throughout the controversy. We’ll be watching this one closely but, for now, we leave you with Cook’s own words on the implications that would compromise billions of peoples’ freedom to security.
“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. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”
Imagery via Huffington Post, CNN, and AP Photo.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on this developing story.