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The FBI’s Got 99 Problems and Apple’s One

Apple Apple versus the FBI. A public company versus a government entity. Privacy encryption versus the war on terror. The story that broke last week has so many implications it’s hard to dissect and decide which side is right.

Privacy activist Edward Snowden has even weighed in on Twitter declaring this case “the most important tech case in a decade.”

So what is the major issue at hand? Very simply, allowing the government to unlock an iPhone or any similar device will have a significant impact on the future of privacy. Apple released an official statement on their website declaring their need to protect customers’ data and privacy. Edward Snowden points out that if the FBI gets what they want and has Apple build a master key to unlock any of their devices, then any iPhone could be unlocked by any hacker or user within a half hour’s time, which is not good for privacy.

Apple’s not new to huge data breaches. In 2014, more than 100 celebrities’ iCloud accounts were hacked, and compromising data, photos and video were stolen and distributed for public consumption against their will. This, rightly so, sparked a public outcry for more security to which Apple responded by implementing a two factor authentication.

With the release of iOS 9.0, Apple doubled-down on security. Just look at their 60-page documentation focusing solely on the security measures they put in place to protect us, our privacy and our data.

So what’s the counter-argument? The FBI wants access to potentially helpful counter-terrorism information that is locked on an iPhone protected by Apple’s encryption. The software on that iPhone will automatically reset and delete all information on it after 10 failed password attempts thus rendering it forever useless to law enforcement. The Guardian points out that “our lives are lived through our phones now, how can law enforcement do its job if it can’t get into them.”

Some argue Apple should be required to unlock this phone because they have reportedly done so 70 times in the past. This, however, simply is not true as reported by TechCrunch.

As one can see, this is indeed an important ruling and decision to follow for the U.S. justice system and/or its citizens.

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