Apple’s Brawl With the FBI: All You Need to Know

Who is right and who is wrong? Read on and comment your opinion.

The San Bernardino Shooting:

You’ve certainly heard about it, a married couple went on a shooting spree killing 14 of their coworkers and seriously injuring 22, leaving behind them 3 poorly constructed IEDs that a bomb squad later detonated. Both husband and wife died later in a shootout with the police. In short, President Obama defined the shooting as an act of terrorism and the FBI opened a counter-terrorism investigation, revealing that the couple were inspired by foreign terrorist groups. We will see why this was the specific case chosen to push to court against Apple later below.

What the FBI is Asking for — The Famous Backdoor:

Source: BBC

What you just saw is an excerpt from the court documents that defines the FBI’s demands. Simply put, the FBI will be able to try an unlimited combination of pass-codes electronically, without the iPhone delaying the process or even erasing itself. Which means that the iPhone can be unlocked in seconds; a 4 number pass-code has 10,000 possible combinations.

Why Apple Refuses to Comply?

On February 2016, Apple sent out a letter to its customers that you can find here. It basically says that Apple is doing its best to help the FBI but building a backdoor would basically threaten data security that we’ve been trying to fortify for the past couple of decades. Apple takes on an ethical approach to the matter, keeping in mind that the FBI don’t mind that the operation be undertaken within Apple’s premises. However, the main risk is that once a backdoor is created, it’s only about time until it’s within the hands of the “bad guys”, once there IS a way, eventually, someone else will find it. The FBI’s defense is that it will only be used for this particular case. The news say otherwise, that the FBI wants Apple to unlock more than a dozen iPhone and iPads for similar cases, which could only be the beginning of the snowball.

FBI Wanted Apple to Unlock More Than Just One Device

Supporters on Both Sides:

Google, Facebook and Twitter are publicly supporting Apple, while the FBI gets the support of figures such as Donald Trump and Bill Gates. The founder of Microsoft emphasizes that it’s only a particular case and that Apple should comply with the FBI’s demands, while Zuckerberg said “I don’t think requiring backdoors with encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do for just the direction that the world is going to,”.

On another hand, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center on whether the Americans support unlocking the iPhone or not, gave the figures below:

51% of surveyed individuals believed that Apple should unlock the shooter’s iPhone, which is sort of controversial taking into consideration that Silicon Valley and the tech world is siding with Apple. All this leads to the following question:

Why the San Bernardino Case? Opinions:

This case seems to be the preferred choice for the FBI and the most known to the public. Now what is the world most afraid of? Terrorism indeed. It is my own speculation that the FBI aims to gain the sympathy of the public focusing on what frightens said public the most, which is the most logical explanation to the majority of Americans siding with the FBI. Another explanation could be that not all Americans are in fact very familiar with Cyber-security, Cyber-threats and the complex implications affecting the world’s industries built on technology. I would go with a mix of both explanations taking into consideration the victims’ families reaction to the case, knowing that family members are in the process of filing court papers in support of the FBI. For the families, prosecution against the bad guys far outweighs the risk that can ensue if Apple were to answer to the FBI’s demands. Feel free to elaborate on the matter in the comments.

What’s Next?

Apple has until February 26th to file a formal brief opposing the federal court order. If the case is still unsettled, it will be passed to the District Court. If the fight persists it could reach the Supreme Court for a final decision which could take several years. So unless one side abides, it will be a long while until a formal decision is imposed. Apple seems willing to keep up the fight till the last moment, will the FBI keep up? Let me know your thoughts below.

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