Apple CEO: Complying With FBI's Request To Open San Bernadino Shooter's iPhone Is "Bad For America"

Apple CEO: Complying With FBI’s Request To Open San Bernadino Shooter’s iPhone Is “Bad For America”

Apple is not giving in. In the Apple vs. FBI battle, that is. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been refusing federal orders to unlock the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who allegedly attacked a regional center for those with special needs in San Bernardino, Calif., this past December. Apple’s Cook seems to be standing his ground, and is citing his feelings that allowing the government access in the proposed manner would “set a dangerous precedent.”

The debate over privacy versus the need for national security is one that has captivated the public around the world, especially after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which the NSA is spying on the American people. According to CBS Local, Cook has said that he will take Apple‘s case to the Supreme Court and would also try appealing to President Barack Obama. It appears Apple is serious about their role in protecting the privacy of their consumers.

Apple has suffered from disputes over privacy before. Shortly after the NSA revelations made by Snowden, the public accused Apple of being able to read the content of all iMessages, which are sent to and from Apple iPhones using wireless internet. Apple has since disputed those claims, noting that all the messages going between iPhones are encrypted during sending and cannot be read by Apple.

Presumably, the FBI will be looking to shooter Farook Fyed’s iPhone to discover basic information about the day of the killing, including how and when Fyed and his co-conspirator Tashfeen Malik planned the attacks, and a possible motive for the shootings. This assumes Apple allows them access to the shooter’s records, however. Under current laws regarding Search And Seizure of property, a police officer or organization must have reasonable suspicion that a person committed a crime to obtain a warrant to search their property. In this case, the FBI could use video footage from inside the center as Probable Cause to force Apple to unlock Fyed’s iPhone.

The privacy problem suffered by Apple has plagued other tech companies as well. Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and many others have, like Apple, all been ordered to turn over user records to the NSA and other government agencies in the interest of national security. Most of those companies have complied in order to avoid legal complications, making Apple one of the few hold-outs.

The debate for Apple is especially sticky because it has access to the iPhone of a known criminal. Many people in the public at large dislike the idea of government snooping, likening it to invasive measures taken by the futuristic government in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. On the other hand, Apple cannot refuse a government order without facing some type of fine, penalty, or other punishment.

Another issue in the Apple-FBI debate is the outdated regulations which govern the use and acquisition of digital information. According to the website Digital Due Process, a statute known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was written in 1986, but has not been updated to cover the new technology which has emerged since. Thus, there cannot be a single, agreed-upon standard to decide when digital info can be legally seized. This could be a useful loophole for Apple if the case does go to the Supreme Court.

Apple CEO: Complying With FBI's Request To Open San Bernadino Shooter's iPhone Is "Bad For America"
President Barack Obama meeting with FBI Director James Comey before the President’s statement on the San Bernardino shooting. The U.S. government became unable to collect phone records belonging to shooters Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook. This was due to the NSA’s surveillance program being shut down four days before the attack. [Image via AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
It seems the public is largely in favor of Apple and Cook’s decision not to open the iPhone for the FBI. As Inquisitr previously reported, demonstrators rallying in favor of Apple‘s decision threatened to take their fight nationwide. Even if the FBI is allowed to access the iPhone records, it may still run into trouble using them. The NSA has sealed the records, so the FBI is not technically allowed to see them, even if they have a warrant. Let us know what you think about the Apple vs. FBI showdown? Should Apple be protecting the privacy of their iPhone users, even in the case of an alleged killer? Or should the government be able to force Apple to open the iPhone to the FBI?

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]