STAFF EDITORIAL: Apple should release information for safety’s sake

Staff Editorial

Technology giant Apple and the U.S. government are once again clashing over privacy policies after Attorney General William Barr asked Apple to help the government gain access to the iPhones used by a Saudi Arabian gunman who killed three people at an Air Force base in December. 

The U.S. government is asking Apple to help them unlock the iPhones owned by the killer after multiple attempts by the government and third-party contractors were unsuccessful. Apple said no. 

Apple is arguing that the personal cellphones of its customers come with a certain expectation of privacy, which Apple says is a human rights issue. The government is saying this is a human safety issue.

And so continues a battle between the planet’s most powerful government and one of its most powerful companies. 

This fight between Barr and Apple raises some questions, ones that may be more important than we even realize now: At what point should a line be drawn between privacy and public safety? Where is that line? And who should get to decide where that line is?

We at The Daily Eastern News believe that people’s rights to privacy from their government is one of the most important things we are born with in the U.S. However, when it comes to terrorism and people’s lives being in danger, companies like Apple should assist the government in whatever way possible to save lives. 

The government by no means should have free and unguarded access to personal cellphones, but we believe that if any exception to that rule exists, it is in cases like the one at hand. 

Apple’s stance is a noble one as it feels that it is protecting the privacy of its customers and preventing a dangerous precedent from being set in its relationship with the government. But Apple also needs to understand that human life is the most valuable commodity we hold, and if they can assist the government in preventing the loss of human life by giving it access to the cellphone of a terrorist, it should be compelled to do so. 

Apple also fears that opening up its phones to the U.S. government, even if just on limited occasions, will also open up the phones to hackers and the Chinese government.

This, too, is a valid concern from Apple. But again, if the government gaining access to the cellphones of terrorists means the possible prevention of attacks and loss of life, that should be priority number one.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].