Privacy or Piracy – A Moral Dilemma

Posted: March 7, 2016 at 7:53 pm by Skip Kelley

When should consumer privacy trump national security? I think you’ll agree that this sounds like a simple question but has complex answers.

In light of the San Bernardino tragedy, and the fact that Apple refuses to comply with a federal court order to help the FBI break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the answer to this question is now in the hands of the courts. Now Apple is being targeted for not helping our country invent a backdoor into its own security system. While there are numerous political views on what is right, everyone understands that the privacy of iPhone users, who own one of the best security and operating systems for any cell phone, are now in jeopardy of losing that security or seeing it seriously weakened.

Apple has done everything that’s both within their power and within the law to help with the FBI’s case against the San Bernardino shooter. They have publicly stated they want to and will do everything they can to help, as long as it does not jeopardize their right to protect the safety and security of all iPhone users throughout the world. By creating backdoor access, thereby allowing the FBI to pick the iPhone’s security lock, there is no reason to assume that the access, once gained, will not expand way beyond San Bernardino into other investigations in the future. In other words, letting the FBI gain access to iPhone security could very well be the beginning of a slippery slope which may be steeper than anyone thinks.

If you were Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, what would you do? You’re faced with the dilemma of either protecting millions of people’s information and privacy or helping the government obtain information about the terrorists that took the lives of 14 people.

Tim Cook and Apple are faced with making both a business and moral decision. They must consider the public faith that consumers have in Apple products; the integrity of Apple’s word; how trust in Apple will rise or fall. Trust is a belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest and effective. A belief that someone can depend on another and in which confidence is placed. By providing the government with a key to unlock the information they are looking for, it could cripple the trust Apple has built with their consumers. On the other hand, by not providing the access key, the public reaction might be fiercely antagonistic towards Apple that they are not protective of America and its fight against terrorism. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place. Whatever you choose you will make some group unhappy. Either way, arrows are headed your way.

Trust, to me, is most important and not something taken lightly. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be Apple’s CEO. I’m glad I’m not. Whatever happens, I want you to know that your trust in me, the services I provide and privacy of your information is of paramount importance and I would fight to be the last man standing to make sure it remains that way.

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