Post VII: Government Backdoors

When news of the struggle between Apple and the FBI came to light a couple of weeks ago, I pretty quickly thought that Apple should just unlock the phone and be done with it. Since that first thought crossed my mind, my opinion has changed many times. I still have not definitively chosen a side in the matter because the arguments on both sides are very strong, though very different.

When Tim Cook pointed out that creating a new software to unlock a phone would create a way for the US government to get their hands on sensitive information, I was not too worried because I have nothing to hide. However, many articles including this one also point out that other countries could follow this precedent and abuse it. At this point, I became pretty swayed towards Apple’s side. There is no telling what the rest of the world is thinking while they look in on this incredibly public conflict between two very powerful entities. I often wonder if this issue could not have been kept private between the FBI and Apple…. Perhaps if these dealings were handled out of the spotlight, some of the issues that Cook brings up would not be a problem. Then again, it’s hard to imagine anything like this being kept completely confidential. I guess we’ll never know.

On the other hand, if there is truly information on that phone that could help the government and FBI prevent future terror attacks, shouldn’t that be revealed? Wouldn’t still Apple be protecting its customers by helping prevent attacks that take lives? I am unconvinced, though, that it is possible for the authorities to be 100% certain that there is something in that phone that will reveal anything useful for the future, and not just more details on the specific San Bernadino attack. But perhaps gaining insight into that attack could still be useful for the future.

Still, I think the “big picture” is what should be focused on with this whole situation. The government does not have the best reputation for being able to keep things on the down low and giving them access to something so powerful, that would affect millions of people, may not be the best idea. The idea that other, more controlling governments may look at what the United States is doing and taking advantage of this situation to much more dangerous extremes by mandating this backdoor for use on its own citizens is simply terrifying.

In the argument about national security vs. individual privacy, there comes a point when individual privacy becomes national security. If we lived in a world where the bad guys were all in one place and we could prevent them from also accessing this backdoor, I’m sure there would be no real issue here (assuming this world was also one in which the government would not spy on its citizens…). Unfortunately, this is not the case.






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