FBI vs Apple

free essayThe Constitution of America recognizes the right of every citizen to privacy under the Bill of Rights. The right is a fundamental principle in many international human rights instruments. Thus, every citizen and State organ has an obligation to ensure that they do not invade the privacy of other people. Unfortunately, the increase in terrorism in the entire world has made it difficult for State organs to retain a balance between the government’s duty to ensure its citizens are safe and its obligation to respects it citizen’s privacy. Such a circumstance has led to the rise of numerous cases between the government and their nationals such as the San Bernardino’s case where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked the court to issue an order allowing them to access personal information of a terrorist by hacking his iPhone. On one hand, Nakashima (2016) in her article ‘FBI paid hackers to crack San Bernardino gunman’s I phone’ argues that The Fourth Amendment tackles the issue entirely since it allows the Congress to restrict certain rights due to national security. On the other hand, the Cook (2016) in the article entitled ‘A Message to Our Customers’ argues that such a precedent would impose an ‘unreasonable burden’ on the company and a threat to data security for all their clients.

Nakashima’s article revealed an anonymous senior administration official’s view concerning the matter. The official justifies the actions of the FBI on grounds that the issue in question is not only a matter of threat to national security but a necessary obligation under the law to deal with terrorism. Furthermore, other stakeholders, such as the National Security Agency and the CIA, argue that before making the above decision, many factors were put into consideration such as the level of efficiency of the flaw and whether there are other alternative means of finding the information. In their view, that was the best option they had to track a group of terrorists and prevent the occurrence of any future cyber-attacks. Due to the reasons mentioned above, the FBI states that revealing the loophole in iPhone to Apple Company would frustrate their efforts to fight terrorism. Besides, according to James B. Comey, the director of FBI, the software can only hack into only a specific type of phone and not the entire range of Apple electronics. Hence, the customers should not be scared of the fact that their private information is under threat. The argument is valid under the law, and there are various situations where the government has to impose certain measures for the sake of its citizens. Most importantly, the lack of security in a nation presents an opportunity for the violation of all other human rights.

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According to Cook (2016), creating an exception that allows the FBI to hack into a single Apple device would jeopardize the security of the digital information of other customers. Once an individual establishes a way of trespassing a single Apple device it becomes possible that any other individual with similar knowledge will be able to bypass the encryption on other people’s devices illegally. Setting such a bad precedent would imply that the Apple Company will have to incur major costs to create new software or hardware to cure the problems while the customers will not enjoy their entitlement to the privacy of personal information. One of the dangers of having such sensitive information in the public domain is that it would increase the cases of cyber-crimes in the entire world.

Additionally, Cook states that expanding the FBI’s authority under the All Writs Act of 1789 would be unconstitutional and contrary to the principle of democracy. The Act would require the Company to create a software that can allow the government to access the customer’s messages, health, or financial information as well as their location without the client’s consent. The opinion is valid since such an act is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment that protects all citizens from unnecessary and arbitrary searches of an individual’s personal property or premise whether it is physical or not. Second, Cook concludes that although ensuring national security is an important and legitimate obligation of the State, it should try to strike a balance between the right to privacy and safety. Consequently, the measures that they impose should be reasonable and since is it essential for a democratic society (Williams, 2016).

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The discussion above has shown that the controversy surrounding the case between the FBI and Apple is a major concern for all citizens and other competitors of Apple Company as well. It is evident from the above argument that both parties and different contributors have valid arguments based on the law and other factors. FBI’s argument that national security is a justified ground for limiting certain rights such as the people’s entitlement to privacy is acceptable under the Constitution. However, the question that other people raise is the extent to which the government can impose measures to undermine the principles of the Bill of Rights. To counter the argument above, Tim Cook in his message to Apple customers, argues that before the government makes a decision to infringe on the citizen’s rights, it must ensure that they consider the interest of the public and the State’s objectives. Thus, issues such as national security, should not present an opportunity for the government to contravene their constitutional obligations.