The Current Case of Apple vs FBI

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The Current Case of Apple vs FBI

The evolution of information technology systems in humanity today has revoltingly affected the way humans live their lives. This has consistently led to the raise in ethical and social impacts that are growing in human society beginning with health related matters to social threats such as privacy. This research specifically examines the effects of legal, ethical and societal implications of information systems on the society. This paper discusses the key technological trends that result in ethical issues along with the moral dimensions of information systems on the human civilization. It also analyzed the position of Apple Inc. and that of the FBI on personal file sharing, infringement of intellectual property, security risks, identity theft, surveillance of employees, privacy, and ethics in relation to the current Apple versus FBI case.


Human beings hold with high value their privacy as well as the protection of their personal life’s spheres. We value direct control over what about us is known by whom. Humans undoubtedly do not want their private information to be accessible by anyone at any time. However recent developments in information technology intimidate privacy in addition to reducing the amount of control one has over personal data, thus, opening up the possibility of a range of unconstructive consequences as an outcome of access to personal data. Notably, the 21st century has grown to be the century of Big Data as sophisticated Information Technology enables for the processing and storage of exabytes of data. On one hand, the revelations of Edward Snowden – a former CIA staff – have demonstrated that these concerns are real and that the technological capabilities to accumulate, store and search large data quantities regarding internet searches, telephone conversations and electronic payment are now in place and are consistently utilized by government agencies (Reynolds, 2014). On the other hand, personal data in relation to customers and prospective customers are at present a key asset to business firms. At the same time, the value and meaning of privacy remains to be the focus of considerable controversy.

The grouping of increasing control of emerging technology and the declining transparency and accord on privacy gives rise to challenges pertaining to policy, ethics and law. The focus of this case, thus, is on exploring the connection between privacy and information technology (IT). This paper will both illustrate the precise threats posed by IT and innovations in IT towards privacy, as well as illustrate how IT might be able to surmount these privacy concerns through privacy-sensitive development. Lastly, this paper will discuss the function of emerging technologies in ethical debate, in addition to accounting for the manner in which moral debates are themselves impacted by IT.


The Apple versus FBI encryption dispute is about whether and to what scope courts within the United States can oblige manufactures to aid in unlocking smart phones whose contents are cryptographically protected. On February 18, 2016, a federal magistrate issued an order compelling Apple Inc to support the FBI in hacking into the iPhone that was used by a shooter at the San Bernardio shooting (Schneier, 2016). Following this orders, Apple objected to eleven orders issued by magistrates under the All Writs Act of 1789. Principally, these orders sought to compel the smart phone manufacturer, Apple Inc., to exploit its existing capabilities to extract such data as photos, contacts and call-logs from locked iPhones running on iOS operating system, with the objective of aiding law enforcers in criminal investigations as well as in prosecutions. Additionally, some of the requests entailed unlocking phones with advanced security protections, which Apple had no ability to break and thus would compel Apple to develop new software that would empower the government to bypass the devices’ security encryption to unlock the phones (McLaughlin, 2016).

According to the court case, the FBI sought to compel Apple to develop and electronically sign software that would make it possible for the FBI to unlock a work-assigned iPhone 5C, recovered from one of the shooters at the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple declined to develop the software owing to its policy to on no account undermine the security aspects of its products. However, prior to the hearing, U.S. government sought a delay citing they had found a third party competent to aid in unlocking the iPhone, followed by statement that the FBI had unlocked the smart phone and thus was withdrawing the initial requests to Apple. Additionally, another court in Brooklyn ruled that the All Writs Act could not be exercised in compelling Apple to unlock an iPhone.

Exploiting the All Writs Act to oblige Apple to develop the software was unique and, in agreement with legal experts, it was likely to instigate huge fight on privacy against national security. In addition, legal experts drew attention to the implications of the legal instance that would be established through the triumph of this act against Apple, would be beyond issues of privacy. An appeal was made, but later withdrawn after the government was given the correct passkey to unlock the iPhone (McLaughlin, 2016).

Apple’s position

Following the numerous requests, Apple’s opposition believed the court order was unjustly burdensome. It opposed the order, citing security risks that the development of backdoor software would have on its customers. According to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, the request by the FBI threatened data security through establishing a precedent that the American government could exploit to compel any technology company to develop software that undermined security of its products. One of the requests suggested that Apple develops and install the software in their labs and the FBI access the phone remotely, where Apple would then uninstall and destroy the software (Davidson, 2016). Further in their defense, Apple asserted that being forced to develop the new software undermined the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stopped the government from ordering that Apple develops software that would clandestinely record conversations, or activate on location services to aid track the phone’s user.

According to the Reform Government Surveillance (RGS) coalition, this is made up of major tech firms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft, it is particularly critical to deter criminals and terrorists as well as aiding in law enforcement through processing legal orders for obtaining information, thus keeping everyone safe (RGS, 2016). However, technology companies should not be obliged to develop backdoors to technologies that secured user’s information. In this respect, the RGS companies remained committed to according law enforcement the aid needed, while safeguarding the security of their customers as well as their information (RGS, 2016).

The FBI’s position

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