Privacy activists demonstrated outside Apple’s San Francisco store Wednesday night to protest the FBI’s demand for the company to hack into an iPhone recovered from one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The privacy group Fight for the Future plans to host similar rallies across the country to support Apple as it fights a federal magistrate’s order to hack the iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
Privacy advocates have planned rallies across the country starting Tuesday, but 30 San Francisco residents staged their iPhone hack protest Wednesday because of the huge amount of anger on social media, Fight for the Future spokesperson Evan Greer told USA Today.
This is being portrayed as a choice between privacy and security, but from our perspective any attempt by the government to weaken security puts us all at risk.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 18, 2016
The order to force Apple to hack the iPhone comes from U.S. Judge Sheri Pym who ordered the company to supply software that would allow the FBI to bypass the phone’s self-destruct feature.
The iPhone is designed to erase all data after too many attempts to unlock it.
Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to the court order to hack the iPhone with an open letter to the company’s customers calling the government’s demand an unprecedented threat to personal privacy.
In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks, from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
— The Next Web (@TheNextWeb) February 17, 2016
Security experts agree there are risks to creating a security backdoor that would allow the FBI to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone; as Cook notes in his letter there is no putting the genie back in the bottle after it’s been released.
“While the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”
The threat to individual privacy rights in the digital era is what has fueled the anger in San Francisco and across the country, and Fight for the Future wants to make sure their voices are heard, a group spokesman told the SFGate.
It’s amazing that Apple is making the decision right now to say that they won’t undermine the security standards, and we need to make sure that’s something that all of us appreciate, because this is a first step and we can’t let it go any further.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) February 17, 2016
Federal prosecutors argued the information on the iPhone is an important piece in discovering the motive of the mass shooters who were at least partially inspired by the Islamic State.
It’s not exactly clear what investigators hope to find on the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, but some have speculated that information on the whereabouts of other lone wolf attackers could be on the device.
The iPhone would have information on the last calls made by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik before they were gunned down by police.
The San Bernardino shooters took great pains to physically destroy two other cell phones and a computer hard drive before they were killed.
Privacy advocates, however, argue that forcing Apple to hack the iPhone would open a door that would allow other government groups along with private entities to digitally invade the security of normal Americans.
Fight for the Future is planning nationwide rallies at local Apple stores Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 5:30 p.m.
What do you think? Does the government have the right to force Apple to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone?
(Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)