SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE PRICE OF PRIVACY

Paul - US v. Apple

In the wake of yet another terrorist act and national tragedy, there are always many questions asked.

“What could have been done differently?”

“What made the individual do something so heinous?”

“How could this have been prevented?”

Unfortunately, these questions do not have simple answers. But the answers are something government agencies search for every day. Email history and talking to people who know the attacker can only tell so much.

There is a better source. One completely unbiased medium that will only tell the truth – regardless of how unpleasant the truth may be:

The cell phone.

On Tuesday June 14, 2016 – just a few days after the Orlando terrorist attack – Paul Rubell, Esq. of Meltzer Lippe gave a presentation entitled “United States v. Apple” focused mostly on the aftermath of the United States legal efforts to force Apple to decrypt software to break into the phone of the Santa Bernardino shooter.

In short, the United States government wanted Apple to write computer code to access the shooter’s cell phone to learn what information was on the device. Apple did not want to do this, largely due to privacy reasons. Even though the government said this was a one-time request, Apple knew that would not be the case.

This leads to a question that isn’t easy to answer and one I certainly will not try to give an opinion on either way. Should Apple have cooperated with the FBI?

Just for the sake of presenting points for each side, the government could say this was needed for national security. Trying to see with whom this person was in contact, how he became radicalized and if there is information or contacts on the phone that could prevent future attacks.

For Apple, developing code to bypass its privacy settings it has worked so hard to create is against what the company stands for. Apple wants its users to know that whatever he/she do on an iPhone is completely private. Nobody wants the threat of “Big Brother” being able to access your phone whenever it pleases.

The conversation in the room over breakfast brought out great points with terrific questions about what the best approach is. Topics like the Bill of Rights from America’s beginnings to 2016 subjects like “What really is encryption?” may have changed and challenged some of the thoughts people had entering the presentation.

Either way, one thing was made very clear. The power of today’s smartphones is beyond anything forefathers could have imagined centuries ago.

And the question remains, how are we going to use them? – Owen O’Brien

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