Not only has the FBI broken into the iPhone without Apple’s assistance, it will now help local law enforcement across the country do the same, so long as it is allowed by law.
The conflict between Apple and the FBI began when the FBI recovered the iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre. After requests from the FBI to help break into the device, Apple agreed to comply within reason, but stressed that it would be impossible to break into the phone without jeopardizing the personal cyber security of its customers. When the FBI demanded assistance anyway, Apple CEO Tim Cook refused, calling the proposed project:
“the software equivalent of cancer.”
The FBI dropped its court case to force Apple to comply after they successfully broke into the iPhone using their own resources. The high-tech community has been extremely wary of such actions, warning that the technology is a threat to the personal cyber security of American consumers.
The FBI does not appear to be listening to the experts, however. Reuters recently obtained correspondence between the FBI and local law enforcement agencies that states that some of the hundreds of law enforcement cases demanding access might soon have their way:
“As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners,” the FBI said.
What does this mean?
With cops across the country soon getting FBI support in accessing personal devices, there is potentially a larger risk of cyber criminals and other nefarious groups gaining access to the our technology. The cancerous software is here, and it is spreading.
Additionally, in a post-Snowden world, many view the government itself as threat to their personal cyber security. While of course the FBI has vowed to protect the privacy of citizens and obey the law, the U.S. government does not have a good track record of being honest about such policies. Under the veil of secrecy, how will the FBI use these tools? And how well will it monitor the activity of its law enforcement partners?
To many it seems like yet another bad trade in the battle between liberty and security. Truly, it is worse. The decision will be bad for both security and liberty. Apple might have won its lawsuits, but we have all lost the war.
Featured image via Liberal America media files.