This particular issue won’t seem to go away. Consumer privacy has been a hot button topic since Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was listening to consumer phone calls and gaining access to individual’s private information by going to the wireless providers themselves. Many wireless manufacturers and app developers have been working to encrypt personal information, which makes unmonitored access difficult.
After not helping the first time in 2016, the FBI is back asking Apple to help unlock a pair of iPhones that belonged to the shooter at the Pensacola naval base back in December. As in the case of the San Bernardino shooter, Apple has declined to help law enforcement to “unlock” the device. Attorney General William Barr stated that Apple has provided no “substantive assistance” in the case
Barr said the FBI was able to fix the phones, but stated that the phones are “engineered to make it virtually impossible to unlock without the password,” which is why the FBI needs Apple’s help to unlock them. He called on both Apple and other tech companies to “help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of American people and prevent future attacks.”
He’s talking about the “law enforcement backdoor”.
The biggest reason for tech companies refusal to create a law enforcement backdoor is because this would give law enforcement unlimited access to one’s device. As some people would say that this is a special case, but it really isn’t. When you make an exception in one case, you have to make exception in all cases. Right now, courts around the country are having to make decisions when law enforcement demands someone to unlock their phone is considered unlawful search and seizure.
Last week, Apple told The Verge it had given the FBI all data it possessed relating to the case, but it seems as if the company has not helped the FBI actually unlock the shooter’s phones.
The major long-term consideration for this is when can law enforcement examine your phone using that law enforcement backdoor? When you’re arrested for drunk and disorderly? Pulled over for a traffic stop? Just look suspicious on the street? Where will it end?
Before you throw that, “I have nothing to hide” argument at me, think of it this way: Would you allow that creepy guy at work access to your phone? He can look in your contacts, pictures, and apps? I mean, if you have nothing to hide… I trust you get my point.