NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The FBI is trying to force Apple to unlock the encrypted smart phone of a suspected terrorist from the San Bernardino attacks. The over-arching idea here is something every American from Connecticut to California should pay attention to. It concerns our Constitutional rights protecting us from unlawful searches, weighed against the needs of law enforcement, who has the immense job of flat out trying to protect us.
Smart phones. Seemingly every adult has one. Most filled with personal conversations, records of phone calls, and in some cases even banking or medical records. Information that is usually kept closely guarded. So it’s obvious that the stakes are high for this new area of American case law.
“It’s landmark,” said University of New Haven Criminal Justice Professor John DeCarlo. “A new area of law. New area of investigation. And a new threat to privacy.”
The FBI wants to force Apple to create software allowing access into the dead suspect’s iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook responded in an interview with ABC News.
“Can the government compel Apple to write software that we believe would make hundreds of millions of customers vulnerable around the world?” Cook asked.
But there are real concerns for local law enforcement. Many people, including criminals, keep their darkest secrets inside their smart phones, out of reach on encrypted devices. DeCarlo is a former police chief in Branford. He said one answer to the problem is good old fashioned, traditional police work.
“Although we do have this as a new source, it’s something that didn’t exist a while ago,” DeCarlo said. “And cases were still solved. There’s nothing more in a phone that existed before except a handy repository of information.”
That practice may be necessary. Since Apple is holding firm with it’s decision to defy the feds.
“It’s not just about privacy but public safety,” Cook said.
Apple said they’re concerned about setting a precedent if they’re forced to unlock one iPhone. And just to prove how complicated this Constitutional fight is, the District Attorney in Manhattan said he has 175 iPhones from criminal cases that he cannot unlock.