For more than a year, the intense debate surrounding data access and control has raged on. After the San Bernardino massacre in December 2015, Apple and the FBI feuded about access to data on the iPhone 5C used by one of the attackers. Several other court cases touched on the subject of digital privacy throughout last year, including one we covered in our blog in December 2016 in which the Florida Court of Appeals bucked the trend of siding on behalf of protecting users by ruling that the government can force an iPhone user to release the passcode to unlock his/her phone. This week, privacy proponents have been dealt another blow.
Early this year, we all watched the legal battle between Apple and the FBI unfold about access to the iPhone 5C used in the 2015 San Bernardino massacre. The feud ended, at least temporarily, on March 28 when the FBI withdrew its case from the courts after a third-party managed to unlock the device. With no real resolution provided, additional court cases have popped up surrounding the critical issue of digital privacy, and this month, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled that the government can force an iPhone user to release the passcode to unlock his/her phone.
The legal battle continues between Apple and the FBI about access to the iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the terrorists who killed 14 people in the 2015 San Bernardino attack. The Justice Department has issued a court order asking Apple to help access encrypted information stored on the device by writing software that would disable its passcode protections to allow an infinite number of guesses without triggering the auto-erase feature of all data on the device that would normally occur after 10 failed attempts. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has spoken out, saying that “this would be bad for America” and would undermine digital security more broadly.