Apple Inc. [official website] on Monday asked the US government to create a panel of experts to discuss issues of security versus privacy [Bloomberg report], stemming from the emergence of a legal conflict between law enforcement and the company last week. News quickly broke through an online “Message to Our Customers” [statement] on Apple’s website that Apple intended to oppose a demand for assistance from the US government in unlocking an iPhone in law enforcement custody that belonged to one of the San Bernadino, California shooters. As questions poured in from the public about this situation, Apple has published answers [FAQ page] with the final one detailing their proposed resolution:
Our country has always been strongest when we come together. We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms. Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.
This statement from Apple came after the Justice Department called Apple’s move strictly a marketing strategy [NYT report].
US Magistrate Sheri Pym of the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] gave the order that would require Apple to create and give the FBI software to get past a so-called self-destruct feature that destroys phone data if an incorrect password is entered too many times [JURIST report]. Apple opposed the order for personal privacy reasons as well as security in general. “While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.” Additionally, Apple stated the fear of introducing a digital “key” to this security feature that could be used for accessing any iPhone, posing a serious threat in the wrong hands. After Apple opposed the initial order, the Department of Justice filed a motion to compel Apple to comply [JURIST report]. The emergence of new technology, such as cellular phones and GPS tracking devices, has challenged modern courts to adopt appropriate standards for obtaining a search warrant and executing a constitutional search under the Fourth Amendment. In an article published earlier this month, JURIST guest columnist Veronica Reyes of St. John’s University School of Law argues [JURIST op-ed] why warrantless searches of cell phones by the police may not be the best solution in protecting our Fourth Amendment rights.