Political Focus: Apple Vs. FBI; Personal Privacy Vs. National Security

Melissa Deatsch

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What’s the issue?

For the past few weeks, the headlines have been full of updates from the fierce controversy between Apple and the FBI.  

The federal government has asked apple to unlock the phone used by the San Bernardino terrorist that killed 14 people.  Apple has since refused the order saying it would compromise the privacy of its customers.  

It has been an epic battle of personal privacy versus national security.  It started when the FBI filed a motion to force Apple to help bypass the security restrictions on the phone.  Judge Sherri Pym then ordered the tech giant to comply.  

Last Friday, Apple filed a motion to reject Judge Pym’s order.

What are the sides?

At Thursday’s GOP debate, three of the Republican candidates shared their opinions in backing the FBI over apple in this controversy.  Marco Rubio had the line of the night on this topic.

“Apple doesn’t want to do it because they think it hurts their brand,” Rubio stated. “Well let me tell you, their brand isn’t superior to the national security of America.”

Ted Cruz agreed saying that Apple “doesn’t have a right” while Carson furthered the point by saying that if Apple didn’t comply they would be “encouraging chaos” in the system.  

When asked which side they were on, both Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton refused to take a side.  They said it was complicated and they saw both sides.  

Apple stated in their Message to Our Customers post that the FBI was asking them to create a backdoor to the iPhone of the killer.  It message stated, “the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider to dangerous to create.”

This new iOS version would be able to unlock any iPhone in existence.  The U.S. government may only be asking for its use on this one case, but once this software is created, Apple states, “there is no way to guarantee such control.”

Contrary to this account of the situation, FBI Director James Comey wrote, “We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try and guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly.”  

He went on further to note that their intention was not to create “a master key” to all iPhones.  The FBI is just simply trying to follow a lead that may or may not result in the findings of more terrorists.

Why should you care?

This debate has forced people to once again examine what the proper balance between national security and personal privacy should be in this country.  

Privacy and security are two values we hold most dear.  Decisions between the two have always been and will always be complicated.  

The balance should not be solely be decided by tech giants or the federal government.  The American people will be affected by this debate.  The American people deserve a say.  

It is important to be educated on this controversy, not just between Apple and the FBI but also on previous controversies such as Snowden and the NSA and any future controversies to come.