Apple this week released a statement regarding what has been an ongoing battle for months. The FBI requested that Apple unlock the encypted iPhone belonging to San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook, they said no. Major tech companies, Twitter, Facebook and Google, are all siding with Apple Inc.'s plans to likely seek free-speech protection in an effort to block the request.
Certainly this was not an easy decision to make. In the statement from Apple, CEO Tim Cook wrote that complying with the FBI would require the creation of a backdoor to the iPhone, a very dangerous precedent to make. Sure, this backdoor could only be used once but as Cook explains, once the program is written the same method can be used to access information on any iPhone in someone's physical posession. This software 'key', once created, can be used by anyone with that knowledge. In this case the government would have their hands on it and would only be a matter of time before cybercriminals have access to the data.
ABC Action News interviewed KnowBe4's founder and CEO Stu Sjouwerman to get his thoughts on the subject. See the full video here:
"Of course I totally understand the FBI needs to do their homework and their investigation and find the bad guy, but you have to look at the unintended consequences of something like this," Sjouwerman said.
Encryption and cyber security are Sjouwerman's business. He founded multiple companies specializing in the service. He said Apple's efforts to block an order to hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to San Bernadino shooter Syed Farooks at the request of the FBI is a tough decision, but the correct one.
"Obviously they would really like to be able to send a subpoena and hack the phone anytime for anything, and as citizens we should think twice before we say yes to that," said Sjouwerman.
"I think it's easy to do it now because of the case and because it's high profile," said Tampa businessman Mike McCaley. "But I think it does become a slippery slope and how far does it slide down that slope."
If Apple did comply, the government would have the ability to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge. Scary doesn't even begin to describe what that might look like!
The CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google put out statements backing Apple's stance on the issue.
Thursday's statement from Facebook said "These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies' efforts to secure their products."
"We stand with @tim_cook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!" Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai also tweeted "Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy," and added that the case "could be a troubling precedent."
Meanwhile, in the Tampa Bay area, Sjouwerman said: "Apple has to some degree, made a business decision to say no, because they're protecting hundreds of millions of their customers."