The Battle Over User Privacy Is Just Beginning

Apple has the ability to provide the “backdoor” the government so desperately wants. The issue is, can it legally create a phone that even it can’t access?

Apple’s recent refusal to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters has created a spirited debate over individual privacy versus safety. While iPhone users, and the greater public, are staying tuned to hear whether Apple will be successful in its fight to block access to the phone, the real battle will be over how secure Apple can make its phones going forward.

Apple’s Refusal to Create a “Backdoor” in the Face of a Judicial Order

The current conversation is around what role, if any, Apple should play in helping the government unlock a password-protected iPhone. The phone in question belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 of Farook’s coworkers and injured 22 others during a holiday gathering. Farook and Malik were both killed by police in the hours following the attack.

In the months following, conversations between lawyers for the government and Apple about the extent to which Apple would assist in assessing the phone’s data reached an impasse. When the talks collapsed, upon the motion of the Department of Justice, Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ordered that Apple provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators attempting to unlock Farook’s phone.

Credit: Source.
Credit: Source.

In a highly-publicized move, Apple refused, citing to privacy and security issues. Its widely-anticipated motion to vacate was filed [Thursday], asking the court to drop its demand.

However, Apple was never completely unwilling to help the government with accessing user data. Up until last fall, Apple routinely assisted the Justice 

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