Apple vs. FBI

Apple recently wrote a public letter explaining its refusal to comply with a government request to create a special version of the iPhone’s operating system designed to circumvent phone security. The government wants this tool in order to get around the security of a phone seized from one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Robert Spencer, who is very knowledgeable about Islamic terrorist issues, comments, quotes a bit of Apple’s letter and comments:

Point taken. So create the technology, get the contents of this criminal murderer’s phone, give it to the FBI, and destroy the technology.

I think this is mistaken.

Is Apple going to have to recreate the software tool the next time the government asks? Or refuse that time?

How do we judge what’s good enough to warrant such a one-time special exception, imposing the obligation to create potentially dangerous tools on private companies, and why does this qualify?

Claiming this will be a one-off thing isn’t realistic when we are dealing with a big public company and government requests. Whatever they might claim in their legal briefs or PR statements, the government isn’t really asking for a one time special favor. “Okay but just this once” is not the actual impact here if Apple backs down in this case.  If you believe that, I’d like you to consider the purchase of a lovely bridge I’ve recently acquired.

What this situation illustrates is the desperate need for an immigration policy that doesn’t create situations where we try and dragoon companies into doing stuff that is harmful to their customers.

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