Find out more information about  
Fill out this form and a representative will contact you.
Captcha Image
Contact Us
Core Dilemma

On Tuesday, a federal court issued an order requiring Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Ca. last December. In response, Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, has said Apple will appeal the court's order, pitting one of the world's most valuable companies squarely against the United States government. It just might be possible that Apple is the more financially secure and deep pocketed of the two.

Supporters on both sides are lining up, with the tech industry as a whole unequivocally supporting Apple, and lawmakers and law enforcement officials staunchly in the government's corner. Depending on what you read, it looks like the public is split.

Apple argues that "weakening a single iPhone so that its contents can be viewed by the American government risk[s] weakening all iPhones for any government (or other) intruder, anywhere."

This is a tough one. As an iPhone user, I certainly appreciate everything Apple and other tech companies do to protect the privacy of the data on our devices, which in many if not most cases contain sensitive information such as social security numbers, bank and brokerage account information, credit card numbers, business records, trade secrets, and generally private information we don't want getting into the "wrong" hands. As a recent victim of a hacker's attempt to access one of my bank accounts, I certainly don't take it lightly that someone could, with Apple's help, access data that I otherwise believe is secure and encrypted. But then again, I'm a law abiding citizen. I'm not worried about the government being able to investigate me because there's nothing to hide. And I'd personally give up some privacy in exchange for the government being better able to do its job (if it can) of protecting us from people who seek to do us harm.

But there are significant extenuating circumstances here. This is not just any iPhone. It's the iPhone of a mass murderer who may have left evidence of other crimes or co-conspirators in a place the government can't access. Apple reportedly has the ability and engineering staff to do as ordered, which is to provide the government "reasonable security assistance" in accessing encrypted information on the iPhone in question. Somehow, this never should have reached a federal judge. I can't see why Apple and the government weren't able to work out some type of non-precedent-setting agreement to work together in the interest of national security.

The issue of encryption and the government's ability to spy on people in the name of national security has been brewing for years, sometimes at a theoretical level. But this is real life. Real people died, and who knows who else was involved or what else they may have planned? If there's a way to access the information on this particular device, Apple needs to step up. If they're concerned about precedents or being put in this position again, then maybe they should permanently encrypt future devices with no back door or other way to access information. It won't solve the moral dilemma, but it will give Apple the excuse it apparently needs to avoid doing the right thing.

Go Back

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

Meet Jeffrey M. Weiner
View Jeffrey Weiner's Profile View Profile
Download Jeffrey Weiner's Contact Card Download vCard
Connect with Jeffrey Weiner on LinkedIn Connect with Jeffrey Weiner
Follow Jeffrey Weiner on Twitter Follow Jeffrey Weiner
Subscription Preferences
Recent Posts
Winter Wellness
Change Is In the Air
Tradition of Service
Buckle Up
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013

New York
New Jersey
Rhode Island
Grand Cayman

Get in Touch

Get Connected
Privacy | Legal | Sitemap | Secure Mail