Privacy rights being fought between Apple and the DOJ

What should be an individual’s right to data privacy? When we live in what has become a wildly interconnected existence, what should anyone expect when it comes to the privacy of your personal information?

The mass shooting in San Bernardino has, in my humble opinion, created a dual identity for our personal information. Where does government’s need outweigh the rights of the individual? When does the government have a right to demand any company violate what is considered a proper code of conduct?

The shooter, Syed Farook, used an Apple iPhone that was issued to him by the County of San Bernardino, so on the surface this case should be fairly cut and dried. There are numerous standing legal precedents regarding a government employee’s minimal right to privacy when using a company-issued computer, car or cell phone.

San Bernadino mass shooters Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan FarookWould we would even be having these discussions at all if local law enforcement had not changed Farook’s password after the shooting when they took possession of the phone?

Apple has been assisting law enforcement officials on this case, as it has assisted them on previous other cases. Yet now, those same officials have lost access through their own actions. They are now asking the manufacturer to create an OS level encryption bypass, a “master key,” that would allow the government to peer into the data, every piece of it, anytime they choose.

They’re going so far as taking Apple to Federal Court to forcibly compel them into changing the operating system to allow this.  Basically the Dept. of Justice wants the ability to peek into your life anytime they want.

Evidence could allow other nations to access our information

Compound that “concept” with some of the facts in this case and it gets complicated quickly.  See, any evidentiary tool used in Federal court must be maintained “in perpetuity.”  That then could allow the Chinese or “friendly” governments in the European Union to demand access for the key so they can track dissidents, covertly monitor foreign travelers and dignitaries or even steal corporate secrets.

An intentional security access point in the encryption schema of the most prevalently used operating system for mobile devices in the world would be worth hundreds of trillions of dollars. 

Not just to Apple’s competitors but to foreign governments, criminals, corporate pirates and hackers of every imaginable type.

Given our government’s inability to forestall cyber attacks on the Dept. of Defense infrastructure, the FBI or the IRS, how could any entity survive the brute force onslaught with the data mine that the billions of people using iOS represent?

Arguments for both sides of the issue  

I have previously assisted law enforcement with my knowledge and expertise and would not hesitate do so again in the future if asked.

Yet, I applaud Apple and the myriad of other tech companies standing against the Dept. of Justice to maintain the security of my private data, a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The Amendment has the ultimate goal to protect people’s right to privacy and freedom from arbitrary governmental intrusions.

The same Constitutional document allowing individuals to own a weapon that can spew more lead per second than a man can dig out of the ground in a single day, also protects me from unwillingly or indiscriminately allowing any person, corporation or government my data to be accessed, mined or viewed without the due process of law.

And certainly not because somehow both the original and the brand new passwords installed by law enforcement were lost while the phone was in police custody.

CNBC has a good outline covering both sides of the issue here.