GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In an unprecedented move, the FBI and now federal judge ordered Apple to create the software that would unlock the work iPhone of the San Bernadino shooter.
Apple refused, and with a public letter from its CEO, sparked a nationwide debate of the fine line between cyber security and privacy. Many argue this would create ‘backdoor’ software that could get into the wrong hands and be used to decrypt all iPhones and other devices.
The government is using an eighteenth century statute, All Writs Act of 1789, rather than legislative action through Congress, to make this demand. In its public letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote, “the implications of the government’s demands are chilling.”
The tech-giant’s move to refuse a federal court’s order sparked outrage. Some like Congressman Justin Amash in a tweet argued, “Govt's demand that Apple undermine safety & privacy of all its customers is unconscionable & unconstitutional.”
Michigan State Police Assistant Commander of its cyber division Det. Lt. Jay Poupard told FOX 17 Apple allowing access to this iPhone would set a reasonable precedent: it’s one case that could save lives.
“We’re about protecting individual citizen’s rights, not violating them,” said Poupard.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with depriving people of rights or invading people’s privacy. What if you have the opportunity to potentially prevent something or identify some people who might be involved in other terror groups based on the data that’s in that device?”
Others agree with Apple.
“It seems like an excessive use of government authority to me,” said Attorney Peter Armstrong.
Armstrong served as Michigan ACLU Privacy Committee chair. He believes there is no way this software would not be hacked or requested for all kinds of cases.
“Once there’s a backdoor into the encrypted phone it’s naïve to think that will only be used in terrorist cases or really high importance cases,” said Armstrong.
Last month, the state houses in both California and New York introduced two nearly identical bills that support the government’s demand: they propose banning the sale of encrypted iPhones and devices.
However, last week Congress introduced a bill that trump both states’ pending legislation. This bill, known as the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016, or the ENCRYPT Act of 2016, would make it so no entity could mandate a manufacturer create the decryption software the FBI demanded in this case.