When the FBI got hold of the iPhone of dead San Bernardino terrorism suspect Syed Rizwan Farook in December 2015, they were not able to get into his phone because of encryption technology. Then, in February, a California federal court judge requested Apple write custom software to disable the main security features. Apple CEO Tim Cook denied the request to help the FBI, and his reasoning may make you start to question the future of digital security in the United States, Africa, and elsewhere.
Why Apple Refused to Decode the iPhone
As Cook explained in his open letter to customers, the FBI’s actions threatened the security of all customers. By creating the tool to halt the encryption on the suspect’s iPhone, Cook said that the technique could then be used over and over again on phones and other devices.
At the center of the refusal by Apple to decode the phone was the question of property infringement. No, it’s not the property rights of the deceased terrorist suspect. Instead, Apple and civil liberty groups suggest that the court-ordered request is part of the government’s bigger goal to undermine smartphone security. Encryption technology, following this viewpoint, makes it harder for the FBI to do their job.
Not Property Infringement, Says FBI
Meanwhile, the FBI rejects the above-mentioned argument, maintaining that they are not asking for a general method to get into encrypted iPhones. Instead, the Bureau says it has a long precedent to back up the request to get into Farook’s specific phone. For years, the FBI has been asking companies to help them spy on criminal activities.
Is this particular request only to look at Farook’s iPhone or is it a part of a bigger, more controversial ploy by the FBI to exercise power in the digital world? While the FBI say that Apple following the court-ordered request would help keep people safe from harm, the action would likely make people feel less secure if they have iPhones or other devices in the U.S., Africa, or other parts of the world.