In December 2015, a husband-and-wife terrorist team killed fourteen people at an office holiday party in San Bernardino, California. While investigating this incident, the FBI obtained one of the killers’ smartphones, which was an iPhone-5c, manufactured by Apple.
A dispute developed between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Apple when the FBI requested Apple’s assistance in bypassing the phone’s password protection.
For this assignment, post to the Discussion Area your response to the following:
- What kind of information did the FBI hope to learn by unlocking the iPhone? Why was this phone considered so important that the DOJ felt the need to take Apple to court?
- Consider that the phone’s owner was killed immediately after the terror attack. Why should Apple resist giving the FBI access to the contents of the phone?
In the wake of this dispute, President Obama called on technology companies to provide the FBI with the ability to bypass password protection on smartphones. He said:
If technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer, how do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement because if in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket (Mason, 2016, para. 3).
- Discuss the conflict between security and privacy concerns that this situation illustrates. Explain whether you believe the smartphone manufacturers should be forced to provide the government with a “key” to unlock password-protected phones. Explain your reasoning.
Reference: Mason, J. (2016). Aiming to sidestep Apple dispute, Obama makes case for access to device data. Reuters. Retrieved from
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