By Tiffany Castro and Renzzo Castaneda /
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he U.S. government and tech giant, Apple, are at loggerheads over an iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino, California shooters last year.
The government, through the FBI, is asking Apple to unlock a smartphone belonging to the shooter through a back-door mechanism since the phone has to be admitted in evidence. Besides, the agency wants to access information that may be stored in the iPhone that may lead its operatives to other potential terrorists.
A federal judge has ordered Apple to help investigators gain access to encrypted data used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2.
Apple, however, says that decrypting the data would be counteractive to why it was encrypted in the first place. In a letter to employees on Feb. 22, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation.” According to Cook, “when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people.” Therefore, he argued that succumbing to the demand by the state will be tantamount to “setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”
Apple, one week prior to sending out this email to its employees, asked the public to open up the conversation regarding this issue. So far, the company has received overwhelming support from Americans across the country. Trending on Twitter was the hashtag #ApplevsFBI where it gained support from not only large corporations such as Facebook and Twitter, but also normal people such as Kacy Tillman, a literature professor and gender historian who said in a tweet, “Apple is right — no matter how justified it may seem, turning over that data would set a terrible precedence. #ApplevsFBI.”
However, should Americans be willing to give up some of their civil liberties or individual privacy in order to further ensure the safety of the public?
“I think it could be beneficial to our safety, but with what’s been currently going on in the world, I don’t fully trust the U.S. government with that type of access at their disposal,” Joseph Maro Jr., Seminole State student said.
Seminole State student Gabriela Castillo had a different opinion on the matter, saying that, “Apple should [create the decryption device] if it’s going to help the FBI monitor or control any criminal implications or activities.”
Tim Cook also said in his email that some advocates for decrypting the data would turn back the clock all the way to IOS 7, released in 2013. Cook said, “Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user’s passcode, so if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure.”
Another Seminole State student, Levi Zima, believes Apple “shouldn’t [unlock the phone] because it’s not a company’s job to monitor or give access to the FBI for these types of activities.”
Brielle Schiff, student, believes that whether or not the government should have access to private date depends on circumstance; she said, “although it would be a way of keeping us safe, it’s kind of infringing on our right to privacy. I certainly don’t want them getting into my phone.”
In the face of this stiff opposition, FBI Director James Comey said in a Feb 21 statement, “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.”