This issue is much bigger than just Apple providing access to a single device, it’s much bigger than the encryption debate and it’s much bigger than just the US. There are angles to this we haven’t thought about yet and it’ll continue to be sensationalised by the press, misrepresented by the government and rebuked by Apple.
The ramifications of them actually complying with this court order would likely spread well beyond just compromising a device that’s in the physical possession of law enforcement. A precedent the likes of Apple being forced to weaken consumer protections will very likely then be applied to other channels; what would it mean for iMessage when the authorities identify targets actively communicating where they’re unable to gain physical access to the device? It sets an alarming precedent and all the same arguments mounted here by the FBI could just as easily be applied to end to end encryption.
But let me finish on a lighter note: this also has the potential to result in greater consumer privacy for everyone. In part because if Apple successfully defends their stance then they’ll have the precedent the next time the issue is raised. In part also because this incident may well prompt them to tie their own hands even further and indeed this appears to be the case with the newer generation of device. And finally, because the world is watching how this plays out and it will influence the position of other governments and tech companies outside the US. If sanity prevails, we may well all be better off for having gone through this.
Librarian And Information Science News