Apple vs. law enforcement in the aftermath of San Bernadino


Jessica Dang, Sports Editor

The chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, announced on February 17, 2016, that the company will not unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino’s attackers, Syed Rizwan Farooq, despite a federal court order.

Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to create a software that can act as a skeleton key for unlocking the iPhone, but the company has refused to willingly act in accordance.

The company maintains its primary standards of protecting their consumers’ right of privacy; whereas, the F.B.I. claims that the new development in technology restricts them from bypassing security features on the phone.  F.B.I. experts were at risk of losing total data on the phone after ten futile attempts at entering passcodes.

Cook says the court’s order to create a master key that can bypass Apple’s encryption standards is far too risky because of the possibility of exploitation by the government and hackers and is out of the ability of the company since they re-engineered their software with “full disk” encryption in 2014, which inhibits their ability to unlock their own products.  

The F.B.I. has appealed the All Writs Act of 1789 which allows judges to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

According to the New York Times, Cook has asserted that “If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

The legal issues of the case has yet to be resolved as its involves the court’s own interpretation and application of the legislation rather than the stated constitutional rights.  So what will it all come down to: the right to privacy or the immeasurable power to track terrorists.