We want to know what you think? Do you support Apple or the federal government when it comes to the data that is in your phone?
Here is what we think…
In the 70s when mobile phones were first invented, no one thought they would become a lightening rod for protecting personal privacy. Today things are quite different. Mobile devices have become the equivalent of personal diaries. Our phones are used to make purchases, communicate our innermost thoughts, and track our habits—healthy or otherwise.
This is why the letter that Apple CEO Tim Cook published on February 16 could very well become a defining moment in the history of personal privacy. In the letter, Mr. Cook said the company will oppose a federal judge’s order to help the U.S. Justice Department unlock a phone used by a suspect in the San Bernardino, Calif., terror attack. Mr. Cook called the order an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” with “implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”
By putting a stake in the ground on what Apple will and will not permit when it comes to accessing the personal data of its users, Mr. Cook has essentially drawn a line in the ground and, in no uncertain terms, requested that the U.S. government step back. I think we can all hear the bells at the Supreme Court ringing, and the sounds of the stock exchanges as all eyes turn to Apple.
Investor worries aside, this was a brilliant move by Mr. Cook, as it places Apple squarely at the center of the personal privacy debate, and it sends a message to the world that Apple will not compromise its customers’ privacy beyond existing fair and reasonable requests from the government. Not to be outdone, Google CEO Sundar Pichai weighed in on the ongoing issue over device encryption with a more succinct five-tweet response applauding Apple’s stance.
The debate about personal privacy has long been in the background in the U.S., popping up in conversations about the use of mobile devices for health and financial reasons. Now it is front and center, with new questions, dialogue and uncertainty emerging. While much of the technology community has put forth carefully worded support or, in many cases, silence, we at BOCA Communications strongly support Apple’s position. We advocate for what’s best for our clients and our people, and see the court order as potentially setting a troubling precedent for both.
We, like the vast majority of people around the world, abhor terrorist attacks. We can and should do everything we can as a nation, communities and industry to thwart those efforts. However, when we start to compromise the very freedoms that terrorists seek to attack, where does that put us? And where does it end given the ever-evolving technology landscape?
When you consider that the Internet of Things doesn’t end from a technology perspective, this question grows even more concerning. As reported in a recent TIME magazine article, if the FBI wins, it could open the door to massive surveillance not limited by smartphones. With the billions of devices (and growing) now connected by the Internet of Things, the government, or others, could deliver spyware to connected appliances armed with code blessed by the developer’s secret key. Let’s hope an equitable solution is found that helps the government track down bad guys without compromising the rest of us. We’ll be watching and advocating for our clients.