Yesterday a California federal magistrate judge ordered Apple to create software that would allow federal agents to crack the data encryption mechanism on Apple phones. This was in direct response to the San Bernardino mass-shooting incident where the attacker / terrorist allegedly used an iPhone.
Apple in a message to their customers responded to the matter and publicly opposed the request claiming that it would have implications far beyond the current need in solving the terrorist attack at San Bernardino. They go on to say that if that proposed software gets into the ‘wrong hands’ it would have the ‘potential to unlock an iPhone in someone’s possession.’
Quickly following suit and coming to Apple’s side on the matter were big names in the privacy and tech arena such as former federal contractor Edward Snowden, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum. All indicating that Apple should not allow such a dangerous precedent to be set. Many speculate that it’s only a matter of time before other influential tech giants like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella will weigh in on the matter.
So why is this so important to you? In 2013 former U.S. government contractor, Edward Snowden leaked to the world that US Federal Agencies intercepted, and in some cases without warrant, vast amounts of information from online traffic, emails, text messages, Skype calls and compromised the integrity of millions of mobile devices from nearly all major manufacturers.
Upon hearing these revelations from Snowden, major tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft made significant upgrades to their hardware and software services to make it more difficult to break their encryption code.
Asking Apple to build a backdoor to this improved encryption system is a slap in the face to not only them but to all other tech giants as there would be precedence set and they too may have to comply.
None of us would willing purchase a device which we know can easily be tapped into by the FBI or as said before, if in the wrong hands, by just about anyone on the street. That would mean making it easier for our personal information to be stolen and privacy taken away.
Many await the outcome of this debacle as the effects of such a ruling can be felt not only in the US but set a precedence worldwide and can see the end of consumer digital privacy rights as we know it.