EC students react to FBI v. Apple

Photo by Mia Harman

Tech mega-power Apple has seemingly entered a conflict with the FBI after the intelligence agency contacted Apple with a request to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters on February 17. The request entailed Apple to create a method of disabling the iPhone feature of wiping a user’s data after 10 failed attempts at unlocking the phone. Apple’s refusal to comply with the FBI’s request has raised a number of complex questions about the principles of the FBI’s order as well as the refusal itself. Dr. Teri Walker, associate professor of political science at Elmhurst College helped clarify the FBI’s motives and their rationale. “The way I understand this is that the FBI wants Apple to create (and then eventually install) this back door technology because according to Apple, it is nonexistent,” said Walker. “The FBI is asking the Court, under their power of the All Writs Act, to make Apple comply with the search warrant issued by the feds.” Naturally, the invention of such a technology has raised concerns with those who own iPhones, as it would create the possibility of any individual’s iPhone being accessed by the FBI. Elmhurst College students and iPhone owners voiced their opinions on the matter. “Well, I get why Apple doesn’t want to comply because a lot of the time technology that’s supposed to be used for good ends up being used by people like hackers to steal all of your personal information,” said EC sophomore Nicole Preetorius about Apple’s decision to not create a back door. She explains that the creation of such technology would feel like an invasion of personal privacy. “I think it’s a case by case scenario,” she said. “If you start doing this to prevent things, it would lead to watching everybody’s phone all the time, which would mean you would have no privacy. Would you want the government to see everything you send or save on your phone? I wouldn’t.” In a similar vein, EC freshman Amanda Smejkal voiced her approval of Apple’s decision. “I think it’s awesome, but they find ways around it. They’re already in social media and all that,” she said. “The only thing they don’t have access to is our calls. So it’s nice that somebody’s standing up and raising awarness and making it in the public eye.” Though she agreed with Apple’s decision, Smejkal understood the FBI’s reasoning for giving Apple the order. “The FBI knows what they’re doing. We don’t hear about what they’re doing well we hear about what they’re doing wrong,” she said. “But I feel like that’s something I would compromise. A freedom I would compromise for my safety.” Walker gave her own opinion of the principles of the whole ordeal. “It could be argued that it violates free speech, due process, or search and seizure,” she said. “Our civil liberties and rights are often times stepped on or limited by the government in times of ‘war’ or in the name of ‘national security.’ This will play out in the court system.” As to what everyone should do about this debate, Walker simply said: “Our civil liberties and civil rights are dependent on the people — not the government.”