Should Apple make exceptions of unlocking iPhone?

Should Apple make exceptions of unlocking iPhone?


Apple’s dispute with US government seems to find no end nor solution. The government is all bent on getting Apple to help them in unlocking the phones of terrorists that could help FBI in locating other terrorists or getting hands on information that could be of help to them.

Those that killed 14 people in San Bernardino were shot dead but their iPhone had been recovered. FBI wasn’t able to unlock the phone because of its high security encryption that would delete all the data in the phone automatically if too many false attempts have been made to unlock the phone without the proper program.

Apple hasn’t been moved yet by all the attempts of the government to provide the unlocking program for only a few devices that could help FBI in solving major issues of terrorism, locating other prospective terrorists, and getting hold of any major terror plan that could be hidden in the device well-known for its excellent privacy features.


1. Fighting terrorism: There are other 13 iPhones with FBI, all recovered from terrorists, that could help them find an important information or a lead in the case. These information could reveal name and identity of other terrorists who could be sprawling in the city amid common people and could any time hatch a plan that would cost lives. Unlocking these iPhone is the need of time and Apple must cooperate instead of resisting.

2. High privacy: iPhones are known for their high privacy. Each one of these phones individually have a unique encryption key without which the phone couldn’t be scrambled or unscrambled. The key is 256 bits long which makes guessing impossible even with the help of most advanced techniques. The security features are so designed that after 10 failed attempts to unlock the phone, all data gets erased which would only make the phone useless. With such high security comes a responsibility to handle situations such as this where peeking into the private space of potential threats is necessary.

3. FBI’s request: What FBI wants is not something very big or unreasonable that Apple couldn’t consider giving. They are simply asking for some modifications in the terrorist’s phone to make it easier to guess their password and allowing passcodes to be entered over a Wi-Fi network or using iPhone’s lightning port. They also want some delay in the passcode guessing duration. They are only being asked for those particular iPhones that need unlocking. The modification will only allow quicker guessing of passcodes without having to worry about triggering the auto-delete mode of the phone that would make the phone completely useless. There is no issue of public privacy coming under scrutiny if these modifications are made only to those particular phones.

4. Majority votes: According to the survey conducted on Americans by national Pew Research Center, 51 percent people want Apple to unlock the terrorist’s phone. 38 percent are against the unlocking while the rest have no idea about this. Those who were against the encryption reasoned saying that security would be breached by government in other matters as well. It is still clear that majority of people would put security before privacy. People are, and should be more concerned about safety than about their phone information being accessed if at all.

5. Legislature: Such big decisions involving who should and who should not get access to a terrorist’s or a suspect’s phone is something that should be decided by legislature and not by mobile making companies. When security of a nation is concerned, law should come first. Apple is denying the order of court as well as requests by FBI, and being supported by tech giants like Facebook and Google. Such cases would only encourage criminals and terrorists to use iPhone and keep their plans safe and secure, far from reach of law and legislature.


1. Privacy: If the program that FBI and American government is asking for unlocking from Apple gets out once, it will be leaked forever. The same would be used to break the privacy of other iPhones that would actually be based on the same procedure. There would be no determining if any such program created would be reserved only for using in special cases such as this. There would also be issues such as normal people’s security under surveillance whenever they are under suspect. The same technique would be later used to unlock any iPhone which is no good news for Apple’s well-known hardest to break security.

2. Back door: This request if fulfilled would be equal to opening a back door that would allow people without a passcode to access secure data. Influential people all over, starting from Prime Ministers to defense and security department’s heads use iPhone for its security of data. Apple’s name for this feature would be tarnished once and for all if such requests are fulfilled. The move could backfire real bad and might even be bad for a nation’s security.

3. More requests: If Apple gives in to the demands of FBI and American government, more requests from repressive governments would soon start flowing in with excuses of national security. Denying them would become difficult for Apple if it fulfills the request of FBI now. Encryption rules are made to be kept secretive and not have loopholes for hackers and criminals to break into. Once out, there would be no determining where the information flows.

4. Tim Cook’s view: “For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening of encryption. Doing so would hurt only citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data…. We must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreact by the US government.” By all means Apple CEO has a view that cannot be denied or ignored. Security matters would be exploited in the name of national security.


The decision to unlock or not lies solely in the hands of Apple Inc. and American legislature and hence there is not much that would matter of public opinion even if the half over half on survey results makes any difference to the decision making.

FBI is not being unreasonable in asking for unlocking of these phones that might provide a lead into the case where more terrorists could be dug out of their hiding places in US and other countries where they plan to disturb peace. Apple and FBI should together reach upon a way to get hands on the information without threatening mobile security.
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