February 20th, 2016
At a time when corporations – from banks to coffee shops – are being flayed by the public for perceived misdemeanours largely around bonuses and taxation, Apple has suddenly emerged as the darling of the man or woman in the street for standing up for our privacy and security. Tim Cooke’s decent and well argued statement on the matter cleverly widened the debate by focussing on and talking to the individual – if software is produced / written to unlock Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c then if subsequently used by a ‘bad guy’ then us ‘good guys’ will be in danger.
Sides have been taken and battle lines drawn. The ‘moral’ argument is for others to discuss – why should a technology company help a government body to do something that many hold dear – i.e. freedom and privacy? Conversely, by not helping the FBI isn’t Apple putting our wider freedom at risk so to hell with principles?
The side of this I find interesting is technology itself now being at the centre of our daily lives and that a tech company can hold such power. Clearly I want my Mac, iPad and iPhone to be secure and safe but I’d also want to know that it could be accessed should circumstances demand it so. Apple is rightly lauded for taking cyber security seriously but it is seriously bad that there is nothing in place that can ‘open’ the iPhone 5c. Since when did any tech company not have in its locker the ‘can unlock / recharge / salvage / re-format’ option and this case – which was by no means ‘out of the blue’ and unforeseeable – highlights the need to restrict the ultimate power that Apple and Co now wield.
The common sense argument, I believe is that Apple should help the FBI in this instance as its surely for the greater good. Moving forward, governments need to be wary of what technology can do. Or, rather, what it seemingly cannot.