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On Apple and security

| Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On Feb. 16, Apple Inc. posted a letter on its website titled “A Message to Our Customers.” This letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook directly addressed the mandate to Apple from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide a backdoor to the iPhone in response to the terror attack in San Bernardino, California, last December.

Broken down into a few sections, this letter discussed “The Need for Encryption,” “The San Bernardino Case,” “The Threat to Data Security” and “A Dangerous Precedent.” In short, Cook stated that the government’s actions are directly and negatively impacting Apple stakeholders, specifically their customers.

Many prominent figures have officially supported Cook and Apple’s resistance in this issue. Publicly, Google and Facebook have defended Apple in its desire to keep its encryption secure, while many other companies have been much quieter on the issue.

At an individual level, one of the relatives of the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack has been very outspoken in defending Apple’s pro-encryption perspective.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Coney has argued the Bureau’s need for a break in encryption is quite narrow and it would be a national disservice if Apple were to not comply with the FBI’s mandate.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has taken a slightly more “gray area” approach to this issue and said he hopes there is a healthy balance in policy with respect to national security and individual privacy.

This issue is incredibly nuanced and has been the subject of a lot of controversy in the past week.

For everyday consumers, this is an important issue as well. One instance of such a breach, as described by Apple, could set a legal precedent of breaches of privacy of previously encrypted devices. On the other hand, the issue is vital to national security as the government uses the resources within its grasp to do its best to protect its citizens.

No matter the resolution of the case, its result will have implications for years to come in the area of individual privacy and national security.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Zachary Llorens

Zach is a member of the University of Notre Dame Class of 2017 from Los Angeles, California. He is pursuing a double major in Information Technology Management and Mathematics.

Contact Zachary