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The Milton Measure

The FBI and Apple Case: The Man Isn’t Always Out to Get Us

by on Friday, April 8th, 2016

On Monday, March 28th, without the help of Apple, the FBI accessed the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. According to a New York Times article, “The case [in which the FBI attempted to compel Apple to hack into the phone] had become increasingly contentious as Apple refused to help the authorities, inciting a debate about whether privacy or security was more important.” To give context, Syed Rizwan Farook and his fiancé Tashfeen Malik opened fire on December 2nd at an office party, per The LA Times and were both killed in a shootout with the police.

As the Times says, the biggest issue in this is about privacy and security. The FBI would argue that data, too, is and should be subject to the same laws as other property. Libertarians would argue that the FBI—and thereby the US government—had no right to infringe on the privacy rights of US citizens (which Farook was); while many others argue that, if the FBI could hack into one iPhone, none of the other 94 million iPhones in the US, according to a May 2015 Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey, would be safe.

Also as libertarians would say, the USA Patriot Act of 2001, signed into being by George W. Bush, violates basic human rights as well. According to the Libertarian Party of Indiana, “Libertarians believe in the sovereignty of the individual and that all rights the state has to operate emanate from the individual. That the government works for us, and does what we say it can do. Not the other way around.” The Patriot Act’s provisions violate the constitutional rights of terror suspects so that the US government can better prevent terror attacks. According to Kean University, the bill breaches the first and fourth amendments, which guarantee “our rights to freedom of expression, speech, and information…and protection from search and seizure.”

So yes, there are certain similarities between what happened then and what happened now: in the wake of (September 11th / a mass shooting), the (President/FBI) wanted to quell the rising danger of (terrorism/mass murders) and could do so with one act: (the Patriot Act/hacking the shooter’s phone). However, the Patriot Act was one party’s overreaching in response to a major act of terrorism that changed the makeup of international relations as we knew them. On the other hand, the FBI’s desire to open the phone does not represent overreaching.

Think of a phone like someone’s room: there is of course the computer in the corner, the books for entertainment next to the wall, the video game console stashed under the desk. But there is also the desk itself, where all of one’s vital work-related information is, and the stash of dirty magazines under the bed, and the diary in the nightstand drawer that details the ins-and-outs of one’s thoughts. Now, imagine the FBI coming into the room and searching it much like on any procedural: perhaps Derek Morgan from Criminal Minds is riffling through the diary, Tony DiNozzo from NCIS is reaching under the bed for those magazines, and any one of the ever-changing cast from CSI is going through the computer.

We would never protest allowing the FBI access to this room and, therefore, this information, if it were the room of a criminal and if the FBI had obtained the proper warrants. Why, then, should we protest when the FBI requests access to the phone? The FBI knows how to pick a lock, but they don’t go around picking the locks of random houses just for kicks. Even Obama agrees: laws of course still need to be developed surrounding privacy and security in the ever-changing digital age, but they should follow the precedent set by laws relating to physical information.

Democratic government is, as the cliché goes, by the people, for the people. Though we see it from an almost anarchical point of view due to the recent failures of government in the US, at least, to accomplish much, a representative democracy is still supposed to use the voices of the people to carry out their wishes in the most efficient way possible, while still protecting and serving them. I’m not saying that government actually fulfills this purpose: often corruption and bureaucracy make it so that government hinders more than helps the democratic process. However, we should not move towards a completely anarchical state, as preventing the government from being able to regulate the data-sharing economy would: instead, we just have to find a better balance between our wishes and how the government carries that out.

The same goes for Milton, too. The school is not constructed of superior people who bring inferiors to campus in order to indoctrinate them into the group of superior beings. No, it is simply a group of people who thought that this was the best way to do education, and their successors. Questioning everything the school does is great and all: nothing beats a questioning mind. Yet we should also let them have enough freedom to carry out their initial goal: educate teenagers who will go out and create important roles for themselves in the world. If we don’t even try to let organizations such as the school and the government succeed, they can do nothing but fail.

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Posted by on Apr 8 2016. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. 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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