Should Apple unlock San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook’s, iPhone in order to obtain more information? Apple is resisting because of the risk involved in the future. The FBI needs Apple to create the software to unlock the device to work toward not letting something like the San Bernardino attack happen again. Read more to get the details on this controversy.
On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, which consisted of a mass shooting and an attempted bombing. The perpetrators of the horrific crime were Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. On December 6 the married couple was determined to have done this as an act of terrorism after seeing Malik expressed support of the Islamic State through Facebook.
The terrorists attacked a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party, of about 80 employees, in a rented banquet room. The FBI is now asking that Apple creates a software system that would unlock the iPhone of Farook to find more information.
Unlocking the iPhone is a hot item of debate happening right now. One side believes Apple should cooperate with the FBI the other believes Apple should resist the order.
NPR said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California wrote in a court filing,
“This indicates to the FBI that Farook may have disabled the automatic iCloud backup function to hide evidence, and demonstrates that there may be relevant, critical communications and data around the time of the shooting that has thus far not been accessed, may reside solely on the SUBJECT DEVICE, and cannot be accessed by any other means known to either the government or Apple.”
The encryption is too hard to open. If the PIN isn’t cracked the phone will use an auto-erase function that deletes a phone’s content after 10 incorrect passcode entries, a mandatory delay between entering passcodes after a certain number of failed attempts, and the requirement that passcodes be entered manually instead of being quickly plugged in by a computer.
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told NPR, “The encryption is so well done and so hard that they know they’re not going to be able to break the encryption or they would have already done that.”
Apple protected their devices quite heavily. There is a required passcode for the device and PIN number required to get into it. Without these codes it would virtually impossible to get into it, meaning Apple may not even be able to break into Farook’s phone. Apple also thinks making the software may be helpful now, but too risky in the future.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said in an open letter, “In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession… The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”
Technology gurus have stated their opinion in regards to whether Apple should cooperate or resist in this case. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook creator, was for Apple cooperating.
“We’re sympathetic with Apple on this one. We believe in encryption,” Zuckerberg said, according to NPR. “I expect it’s not the right thing to try to block that from the mainstream products people want to use. And I think it’s not going to be the right regulatory or economic policy to put in place.”
Bill Gates, Microsoft creator, is also on the side of the FBI.
According to NPR, Gates believes it is up to Congress to settle the debate, but that there is a debate over when it is appropriate to hack, and he with the FBI on this one.
So, what is next for this case?
Apple initially had five business days to formally respond to the court order. The deadline is now tomorrow, Feb. 26.