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APPLE’s Open Letter Highlights Ethical Conundrum of FBI Request

Late on Tuesday, Apple took a stand against a court ruling that, they say, threatens the privacy and security of all of its customers. In an open letter to all eleventy billion (approximately) of you out there using iPhones day-in and day-out to function in our modern society, Apple came down hard on the United States government, claiming that the ruling “has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”

According to the company, the implications of the legal case—and the backdoor component at hand—”has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

In a request to assist the government in unlocking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, the FBI has asked Apple to create a backdoor key that will circumnavigate the encryption Apple created to protect all of our personal data.

In the statement, CEO Tim Cook states that:

“The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Cook went on to add that “while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control,” because “once the information is known … the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

What Cook is saying is pretty serious stuff, so we’re breaking down the request to create a product that would be, according to Apple,”capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes,” essentially undermining “decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.”

It’s a serious issue with serious implications. So why not let Matt Mira break it down for you in our Special Report?

What do you think of the news? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Apple

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of Nerdist Industries. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes).

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