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Is The FBI Accessing Your iPhone Bad for America?

Since the tragic shooting in Southern California in December 2015 by Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Apple CEO Tim Cook and the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are standing off — the FBI for the protection of national security and Cook against an intrusion of privacy on their behalf. Nonetheless, Cook is taking a stand.

“We need to stand tall and stand tall on principle,” Tim said in a recent interview with ABC News.

Farook was said to have important information on his phone that FBI investigators cannot retrieve. With standard phone companies, according to the federal wiretapping laws, the data is made accessible to law enforcement agencies, when applicable. However, companies like Apple and Google are not required to adhere to such request. The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants legislators to place similar requirements on Apple so they can obtain information in the iPhone that will confirm or deny allegations regarding the mass shooting.

For Cook to adhere to their request, his engineers will have to override certain security features on the iPhone used by Farook. Tim informed the investigators that no such technology exist, so they have requested the Apple team create one. They would need to write a program that overrides the encryptions set up to protect users. This technology will allow software updates without a password which could disable the password protection and unlock the iPhone.

In a technology-driven culture, this would make the iPhone more susceptible to outside tampering by authorities or criminals in the future. And at the disposal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if they wanted to access another phone in the future, this program will possess that possibility.

“This (master key) is not something we would create,” Cook said. “This would be bad for America. It would also set a precedent that I believe many people in America would be offended by.”

Although the program is specifically for Farook’s device, Tim Cook stated he is prepared to take the dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court, even to Barack Obama himself. He does not deem his compliance as a means of protecting national security but infringement of a constitution right. His reluctance is based on the First Amendment which prohibits governing officials from creating laws that disrespect established religions, impede freedom of speech, infringe on the freedom of press, interfere with the right to assemble peacefully, and the right issue complaints against the government without fear of retaliation.

“Apple is challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. Ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect,” Tim Cook stated in a letter to iPhone customers sent in February early in the wake of its fight with the FBI.

Cook has expressed his sympathy to the families but wants to create stronger security measures for Apple products. Before the Southern California tragedy, Tim and his engineers were working on security fixes that would prevent governments from using password-breaking approaches at the center of “Tim Cook versus the FBI” standoff, New York Times reports.

Tim Cook warns the Federal Bureau of Investigation that such technology is dangerous. Once created, it opens a backdoor for the system to get into the wrongs hands. Cook has not abandoned his task of creating stronger security holds. And other companies may follow suit and create a similar technology that makes it nearly impossible for the government to tap into cellular technology.

Whether for the protecting of national security or the right to privacy, Cook has until tomorrow to legally respond to the Federal Bureau of Investigation request.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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