On December 2nd 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were injured in San Bernardino due to terrorist attack. During the investigation process, an iPhone mobile was found which was believed to be owned by the shooters. The FBI that was responsible for the investigation made several attempts to convince Apple Company to unlock the phone in order to find any possible evidence left in any forms of data. However, this was strongly rejected by Apple as they believe it can be breach of human rights and privacy of owners and can have significant effect on the reputation of the company with millions of consumers.
One of the prominent features of Apple products among the consumers is the safety of their software and their reliability which is basically one of most important factors for attracting customer’s attention to this well-known brand and make it unique in comparison with other competitors. People who believe in this feature would buy this products and as they are well-assured about this, they keep loads of confidential information and save them in the forms of pictures and files and they can be anything from personal pictures to the saved private emails on iCloud which can include instruction of manufacturing of a very unique product which its production is monopolised to one company in world or even political authorities’ top secret conversations.
Therefore the possible reason that why Apple is fighting the FBI’s encryption backdoor efforts might be explained that the company tries to protect their commercial secrets and privacy of its customer which has spent years of efforts to attract. However FBI claims that the codes will be used once only by them under certain circumstances to access the terrorist’s phone, Apple believes that these codes could make it possible to access every phone and in a larger image to any software on Apple
devices which can make severe negative effect on security of the customers. Even another suggestion from FBI was to make an Apple malware to be sent to the phone by the company compatible with the phone codes in order to access the data which was rejected due to this fact that it can result in any possible abuse for customers phones for the future that even updates which are automatic can be assumed to be malware and can result in people not even doing the essential updates later on. The Apple Company doubts that the government is taking advantages of hacking tools in order to make surveillance on citizens. So according to Kant’s theory, what Apple is doing is in agreement with the human rights law and certain principles related to privacy and security of millions of people. Death of 14 people is not acceptable but when it comes to the point to endanger security of millions that can be intelligible.
American government has the obligation to protect their people from any kind of terrorist attacks as any other governments do. This action should not only be valued during or after the danger, but also in the case that tragedies are not yet occurred. As for this particular case, FBI managed to get access to the phone which could help to investigate the allegedly Islamic State-inspired file.
For the privacy issues which were Apple concerns, FBI director James Comey stated that unlocking of the iPhone used by the terrorists was only needed. There is no benefit for the government to recreate the “master key” and dominate private companies as the government is being supported financially by the tax that they are paying. Also, the “Privacy against Security” problem as discussed, can be weighted when a tragedy is about to happen. Sometimes the threat to national security should be considered as the first emergency comparing to the privacy. ‘National security should supersede privacy concerns in major issues’ said by Warren Buffett. In addition to that, many countries nowadays use call recording and monitoring to gather evidence in criminal activities.
From governments view, this can be considered to be a Utilitarian for Apple Company and it was believed that because of the commercial risk that can be caused for Apple; they pretext to highlight the privacy over physical security of the citizens. Also the Republicans of the US government stood by FBI, and the Florida senator Marco Rubio stated: reasons of Apple rejection is only for supporting their brand name, but this should be noticed that their brand isn’t superior to the national security of America.
It has been a dilemma on choosing the moral way which benefits the both sides. If the case is referred to court, it can have much more serious consequences for the side losing in the court which can be huge reduction in Apple sales or not being able to prevent future terrorist attack due to lack of important data which was on the phone. Their current method is aspirational for the code of conduct for each side and is not practical. Sometimes companies should trust their government and understand that people lives are more important than people privacies, although we believe that the information which is investigated by government should be kept safe according to data protection law and they should be abided by that. To be fair this argument is quite complicated to deal with and get the straightforward answer as it is obvious from the results which have been already seen. There are some more suggestions which can be considered:
1. Both apple and government should find a reliable third party to make sure FBI will not break the agreement of cracking on that phone. (E.g. United Nation, non-profit organizations)
2. Let the government make a new law to deal with this special circumstances for future.
3. FBI should justify their further intends with strong proofs of their validity to authorize the hacking operations.
4. Public vote among the country