Silicon Valley and Washington are all geared up for a high-stakes legal battle concerning a phone that was used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino, California shooting. This is a contest that each side considers a must-win in their long fight over privacy versus security. The brewing court fight was framed by a White House spokesperson as concerning a single phone that was used by Syed Rizwan Farook. Late last year, he and his wife had opened fire at an office party that led to the death of 14 individuals and injured 22. Tim Cook, the chief executive at Apple Inc., and the defenders of the company stated that the fight is actually about the security and privacy of millions of customers.
The furor began this week due to a judge’s order that required Apple to assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a circumventing a passcode protection system on Mr. Farook’s phone. Apple has asserted that it will be fighting the order and this has set the stage for a precedent-setting case for both sides in an era that’s dominated by ubiquitous smartphones. Both Apple and US have readied themselves for the fight to head to the Supreme Court and have considered the possibility that Congress could be prompted to act as well.
Judge Sheri Pym issued the order and it gave Apple five days for challenging it legally, which the company has already agreed to do. The losing side is most likely going to appeal. A former senior official of the FBI, Mr. Ron Hosko said that they had just landed the first punch, but this is only the beginning. He added that they had been looking for a way to make a point about the risks associated with phone encryption. A compelling argument has been found by the federal law officials in the San Bernardino case.
They have gotten the opportunity to force open the phone after a deadly terrorist attack in order to ensure they haven’t missed out on any additional evidence or suspects. On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton said that Apple Inc. had chosen to protect the privacy of a dead terrorist of the IS rather than protecting the American people. Prosecutors and detectives have also said that encrypted smartphones are also a problem for them. According to the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, the technology has prevented it from issuing about 155 search warrants since September 2014 for devices running on iOS 8 operating system of Apple Inc.
These cases pertain attempted murder, homicide, sexual abuse of a child, robbery, assault and sex trafficking. On Wednesday, it was reported by Apple and other privacy advocates supporting the iPhone maker that if the Justice Department wins, it would make the data of every phone user in the US vulnerable to government spying and hackers. The CEO of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Sundar Pichai also lent his support for Apple as he believed that this move could create a troubling precedent in the future.