Tale of the Tape: Apple vs. the FBI

What happens when one of the largest technology companies on the planet goes toe-to-toe with the most iconic domestic police agency in history? Hint: it’s going to be nothing short of a fifteen-round slugfest.

Apple made waves earlier this month when it refused to alter it’s iPhone technology for an FBI investigation. The tech giant’s refusal goes directly against a court order by the department of justice has sparked mass media attention, and it is likely their defiance will place them on a long–and expensive–legal battle with the FBI.

So what exactly happened? Well, you can try asking Siri. But if she doesn’t have the answer for you, here’s the Digital Tattoo’s guide to what will likely become the most important security battle of our time.

A heavyweight tilt for the ages

Last December, a pair of islamic terrorists opened fire on a local government office in San Bernardino, California. After the assault, which left 16 dead, including the two perpetrators, authorities were able to recover an iPhone belonging to shooter Syed Farook– only, the smartphone’s software left it locked up tight.

Farook’s phone was believed to contain integral information for the investigation the ISIS-inspired attack, and so the FBI pursued every available avenue to get inside the device. This included an appeal to Apple to provide the latest backup data stored on the iCloud server, to which Apple unequivocally complied. However, it turned out that the latest data available on the server was from mid-October, leading the FBI to make a far more staggering request: have Apple hack the iPhone themselves.

The FBI was able to obtain a federal court order mandating that Apple create a software to hack their own products. This “backdoor to the iPhone” would bypass the phone’s tightly knit security system that protects all of the product’s users.

This has in turn ignited a widespread debate, none too far off from what occurred after the inception of the Patriot Act: when exactly do matters of national security end and invasions of personal privacy and liberty begin?

“We have no sympathy for terrorists,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in an open letter to Apple Customers. “But now the US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

The belief is that once Pandora’s Box is opened– or once this game-changing software is created– is that it could somehow end up in the wrong hands, or the powers that be could ultimately abuse it. Granted, the software is being produced in the name of national security; however, privacy advocates maintain that the implications could be staggering.

Cook further elaborated in an email sent to Reuters:

“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation. What’s at stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

With Apple currently appealing the FBI’s court-ordered request, it is likely that the two giants will enter a hotly contested legal battle that could reach all the way up to the US Supreme Court. Now we here at the Digital Tattoo are very interested in all matters of online privacy and security, and are very interested our readers have to say. Do you think that Apple is justified in holding its ground against the FBI and a matter of national security? Do you think it’s important to take whatever precautions necessary when dealing with acts of terrorism? How would you feel if this technology existed? Please share your thoughts on the comment section below, and you can bet that we’ll have more coverage on the story as it develops!

One response to “Tale of the Tape: Apple vs. the FBI”

  1. Sook

    Apple, why duplicate what someone has already done? Ask Rupert Murdoch to get his guys onto it.

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