As data collection grows the ability to find sensitive details about individuals also grows. Thanks to privacy acts, and activists like Edward Snowden the conversation about privacy has been pushed to the forefront, however when it comes to the government asking about data from a known criminal, the lines become a bit blurred, what data should and shouldn’t be given up in these situations to satisfy privacy concerns. This is the exact situation Apple finds themselves in this week.
According to a court mandate, tech-giant, Apple, is required to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators regarding Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5C. Farook was one of the perpetrators of the recent San Bernardino, California terrorist attacks where 14 people were killed and 22 people were injured. Investigators want the Iphone unlocked so they can sort through personal information of Farook including whom he may be in contact with or potential connections with other terrorists.
Apple has provided its users with the unspoken oath of protection from privacy invasions meaning they are stuck in a hard place with the recent investigation. While Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is adamant he will not release the information, the government will not let him off that easy.
Cook could be seen as aiding a criminal and/or the government will try to take advantage of the All Writs Act, which could lead to further (and easier) access into private information, for all. The All Writs Act claims that The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law. Essentially, that’s a way of saving the government has the ability to issue a formal order for Apple to hand over the information, because they need it, and the laws about privacy are still a bit fuzzy.
This isn’t the first time the government has stepped in with demands of information from smart phones:
On October 31, 2014, the act was used by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York’s Southern District to compel an unnamed smartphone manufacturer to bypass the lock screen of a smartphone allegedly involved in a credit card fraud.
This isn’t the first time Apple in particular has been under fire either. On November 3, 2014, federal law enforcement sought to get Apple to unlock an iPhone 5S as part of a criminal case. (Sounds familiar).
Apple is on a deadline to respond to the order, so only time will tell how this case will unfold, and we will be watching the outcome closely.
What do you think? Should Apple be responsible for handing over this sensitive information, or because Farook is a suspected criminal he should lose his privacy rights?