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The Milton Measure

Apple Wins Decisive Court Case

by Jacob Aronoff on Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, described Apple’s situation wonderfully: “We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.”

The FBI went on to ask Apple to make a “backdoor” (more on what that is later) to get into the shooter’s phone. The FBI has made numerous attempts to make the public think this is not a backdoor; however, as Mr. Cook says, “Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor.”

Apple prides themselves on privacy. In their past iPhone versions, Apple has made major announcements in their pursuit of security. In fact, in their past two October keynotes, Apple has made a point to call out Google for their lack of security and privacy. When they announced the fingerprint sensor for the iPhone 5s, Apple made sure to stress the improvement in security that the system would provide.

On their website, Apple says “Private and Secure. Just the way it should be.” In short, Apple cares about their privacy. Even considering going against this policy would entirely undermine their public image.

The FBI wants Apple to make this “backdoor.” Now, if you’re not a computer geek like me, you probably only know what this means via Buzzfeed, Facebook, etc. Here’s a little bit more of a description: a backdoor is a script or piece of software that allows an outside user to access a user’s device/data by bypassing that software’s security and is normally achieved through a bug in the code. Apple is worried about making this backdoor for three big reasons.

First, Apple is concerned about their public image and their future products in the works: how are their devices and software going to be competitive against brands like Android if Apple can’t make use of their biggest claim, security.

Second, Apple is worried that this backdoor will fall into the wrong hands. As some media figures (Piers Morgan) want you to believe, the hypothetical backdoor would be easy to control. This is far from the truth. Software development is all done via version control and remote repositories. This means all of a programmer’s code is stored on a server somewhere; in Apple’s case it is most likely on a private, on-site server. The point is, the code for the backdoor will live somewhere, and that’s a big concern. If the code is somewhere, that means someone with malicious intent may be able to find it, access it, and exploit it.

Apple’s other concern is if a team of people can make this once, they’ll be able to make it again. And that’s a risk Apple really can’t take. They may be putting the lives of their employees in harm’s way.

I stand with Apple’s and the FBI hearing’s decision on the matter: A 7 out of 12 decision in favor of Apple, meaning Apple as of now has no withstanding legal obligation to comply-the final decision on the issue will be deflected to Congress. What I believe is more important, however, is the issue of privacy and knowledge that was brought about. What I found interesting is the lack of knowledge much of the media has on the subject. People like Piers Morgan, along with many of the FBI committee members, lacked basic knowledge of these subjects. In our advanced and ever complex technological world we should really focus more on policy and public knowledge involving these complicated topics. With President Obama’s initiative for cybersecurity and Google’s for computer science education, things may change in the coming years.

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Posted by Jacob Aronoff on Mar 10 2016. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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