Apple vs. FBI: Where security for societies and security for individuals are at odds

Ikuyo Sakai is a One Young World Ambassador and student at Keio University. She served as coordinator of the APRU Summer Internet Economy Seminar at the Keio University last summer and is passionate about internet privacy and societal issues.

What is the privacy right? What is the range of privacy?

I wonder how many people reading this blog have ever thought about it. I think answers will vary depending on where in the world you’re from.  

Apple and the FBI are in an ongoing legal dispute over the issue of unlocking the iPhone of a shooter in last year’s attack on San Bernardino. It is believed that the phone holds information important for the investigation.

In this case, there is a surprising amount of support for the FBI; more than 50% of Americans agree with the FBI’s decision to have Apple unlock the phone. Normally, we hear that Americans tend to disagree with the notion that authorities can overpower one’s right to privacy.

However, their insecurities and fear over extremism and terrorists overpowered their tendency to disagree with the FBI interfering with one’s privacy.

Several days ago, Mr. Gates agreed that Apple should unlock the phone for the FBI- even if he thinks it might lead bigger problems in national security. Gates suggests that the FBI should treat this as an isolated case and not use unlocked Apple technology for other investigations. I wish I could say that I agree with him.

I don’t think this will the last case that Apple is petitioned to grant access to. In fact, if Apple obliges, it would be the last case to do so. That’s why I agree with Apple’s decision to maintain their privacy policy. 

Apple didn’t say that they would not corporate with FBI in this investigation. They just cannot agree with developing new operating system to unlock their phone, because it means creating a back-door for their security system, setting a precedent for future privacy cases. Apple is concerned that its technology might create many other risks, especially possibilities to overpower rights regarding cyber-security issues.

In line with Apple, my concern is that opening a privacy back door would create Internet Governance issues, leading to a trail of diplomatic issues in the future for fear of when terrorists would gain this technology. I understand Apple’s concerns entirely and I agree with Mr. Cook’s proposition to organize a committee with experts for cyber-security and privacy issues to find solutions.

I’m sure you remember when Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the NSA had been collecting information; discussions on this topic are ongoing even now. The complex structure of these discussions are making it more complicated and difficult for the average person to engage in protecting their privacy.

Our phones are treasures like gold and oil. Millions of gigabytes of information on each and every one us is stored somewhere as tech companies collect and use it to develop their new services and IOT. Analyzing data to make our lives more convenient and comfortable is one thing, and this is what technology companies and start-ups are trying to do, but we all need to be really careful about our privacy.

Data could be the new world-wide currency, because its industries are getting larger and larger than any other. Right now giant tech companies like Google or Facebook are using our account data to develop their services every day, in return for us to use their basic services freely. As individual users we don’t necessarily know how to protect ourselves in the context of personal data so that we ought to rely on these companies.

Having Internet everywhere means there are no longer any borders in the virtual world, and this in itself makes security issues really difficult and sensitive. After the Edward Snowden revelations, it seems like government policies no longer protect us from evil.

I’m sure that we will encounter similar situations in near future and the more privacy and security issues occurring, the more companies working so hard to develop their services with big data, the circumstances of them would get harder and harder. I just hope that the federal government will agree with Apple’s proposition to progress the discussions about privacy and cyber-security problems, not only for this terrorist case but also for all other related issues and for our future.