Apple is strongly objecting to a court’s order stating that the company must help the F.B.I. access the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.
What if the government asks us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create?
Should a back door be built into devices that are used for encrypted communications?
Would that keep us safe from terrorists, or merely make everyone more vulnerable to hackers, as well as to mass government surveillance?
These questions are exactly the one formulated by Apple.
What happens when the government goes to court to demand that you give it something that you do not have? No one has it. It does not exist. What if the government then proceeds to order you to construct, design or invent it?
Apple has given significant technical assistance with the San Bernardino case already. Apple gave the F.B.I. the iCloud back-ups for Farook’s phone.
In the past, Apple has helped the government extract information from older iPhones. But there is no way for Apple to do so on the newer iOS 9 operating system, built without a “back door.” There is nothing, no set of instructions that Apple could provide to the F.B.I. or anyone on how to break in into the latest Apple phone.
Can a judge order Apple to come up with a new software bundle that can be loaded onto the phone to take over the operating system?
The judicial system can order you “not to do”. The judicial system can order you to act according to the Law: Do not kill; Stop interfering; Stay away, Stop breaking the law. The judicial system can order you to stop doing something that is against the law but can a judge order you to do something or invent something against your will?
Whatever the moral justification, the mumbo jumbo or legal intellectual masturbation, there is no obligation for anyone to comply with any court order that would go against the law. If the F.B.I. wants to break in Farook’s phone, let them hire a professional hacker to do the work.
Saying that “Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search” is a lot of bull.
Judges can tell people to follow the law, but they have to do so in a way that, in itself, respects the law.
JMD is an enthusiastic writer, columnist and social activist who most enjoys evolving in complex interactive situations.