Apple is taking a stand. Faced with a demand from the federal government that the company take unprecedented efforts to assist it with a terrorism investigation, Apple is placing the security of its mobile operating system – security that hundreds of millions of users rely upon to keep their communications, media, and an increasingly large slice of their digital lives safe – above that of the government’s interest in resolving this one aspect of its investigation. Tim Cook attempted to explain his company’s position in an open letter published last week, but that’s done little to stem the criticism that’s painted the company as anti-American, pro-terrorist, profit-obsessed, and all manner of utter unflattering characterizations. In an effort to better convince its users and non-users alike exactly why Apple feels compelled to fight this fight, the company has issued a new set of frequently asked questions – and their answers.
Much of what Apple writes here has been said before, although these easily digestible, on-topic responses may make it that much easier for concerned citizens to wrap their heads around Apple’s position.
Throughout all of this, Apple’s clear that it has no inherent problem complying with lawful court orders – and in this case already, Apple’s turned over all the information it has. But there’s a big difference between delivering existing data and being compelled to write powerful new software that not only could pose a critical threat to iOS security should it ever disseminate, but the creation of which would represent a troubling new precedent for the government’s ability to compel the creation of further privacy-breaking tools.
Ultimately, Apple asks for the government to voluntarily withdraw its legal demand, and suggests that industry, government, and legal minds alike form a discussion to further address the uncomfortable intersection between privacy, technology, and law enforcement that we find ourselves at now.
Update: Apple just found itself a new supporter in its fight, with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg voicing his belief that Apple’s making the right decision.