Earlier today, Federal officials announced that they had, with the help of an undisclosed party, found an exploit that gave them a way to get into the iPhone 5C owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The device was held as evidence in the tragic crime and the FBI ended up getting a court order served to Apple demanding they break the encryption on the device. Apple initially contested the ruling, saying that the case was beyond the scope of a single phone and that they couldn’t simply break the encryption even if they wanted to, but the case has since been thrown out. In the wake of this, a spokesperson for the White House came forward to tell the people of America that they should still expect privacy and security with their personal devices.
The spokesman, Josh Earnest, spoke to reporters about the issue and said that there are “laws on the books” aimed at protecting privacy, even in the wake of the American government successfully taking measures to decrypt and unlock a fairly modern device. There are various laws to that effect both on a Federal level and on a state by state level, as well as a protection from unreasonable search and seizure afforded in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, part of the Bill of Rights. While there are some out there who may say that this is a sham and there will always be ways for the government to invade the privacy of the people, the laws are, sometimes debatably, the laws.
Meanwhile, the debate over whether tech firms should build backdoors into their products to allow government access rages on. As controversial as the debate may be, the nationwide consensus still has yet to swing one way or the other, even in light of recent events. Even as court orders are issued and contested and hackers, both malevolent and white-hat, continue to find vulnerabilities in the devices we use daily, tech firms, government officials and the people are still weighing the pros and cons of such an arrangement. According to Earnest’s speech, however, privacy protections would be carefully considered and placed, backdoor or no backdoor.