Thursday, September 10, 2015

Apple And Microsoft Have Disagreed To Hand Over Data To The Federal Government

Everyone has been talking about Apple's New flagship devices the iPad Pro and the iPhone 6s that were announced on September 9, 2015. However not many people know of the legal confrontation that is occurring between tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft, with the federal government. The government obtained a court order to the messages that were needed in a criminal case involving guns and drugs, but Apple responded that their iMessage system was encrypted and they could not comply.

Another case that has resurfaced in court is the case with Microsoft. This case goes back to December 2013, when Microsoft refused to comply to a warrant issued by the courts for emails in an investigation of drug trafficking.

The main argument being made by these two tech companies is that they have encrypted systems and thus they cannot give out that information. Part of the reason that they have encrypted their systems is because of the NSA info leak that happened a couple of years ago. They encrypted their systems because some of the information that leaked out seemed to point to the fact that the government had been hacking the private systems of these big tech companies and had access to their information.

The discussions and court arguments between lawyers have subdued for the time being, but a decision on this issue could be crucial to setting a standard on weather or not the federal government has the right to people's personal information that these tech companies have in their possession. Much like Marbury vs Madison where the judicial branch established itself the power to control whether laws are or aren't constitutional, the result of these two cases can decide weather the government has the right to access necessary information from tech companies when it is needed for a case. Personally, and I know a lot of people disagree with this, I would not have a problem if the government obtained access to peoples phone and computer records, but only when its believed that doing so can help prevent any attacks or catch criminals. I think a lot of people have a problem with this because they do not have trust that the federal government would act responsibly with this information, and some people just feel that they need to have some sort of personal privacy, otherwise what's the point of having freedom if the federal government has the ability to watch your every move. I can see this point of view, but I believe that security should always be a priority because protecting the lives of people is always a priority.

Something to think about:

Should the federal government have access to peoples phone and computer data when it will help in preventing an attack or catching a criminal? If so, who decides when its necessary to have this access and when its unnecessary?

Articles: Cnet, NYTimes


Meghan Hilbert said...

I strongly believe that in times of disparity and need, it is completely appropriate for the government to go into personal text messages and emails if it helps solve a crime or people's lives. However, I only stand with that when considering the idea that it will solve a case, not pointing fingers on innocent people. It has been reported that the government gets into people's data that are merely innocent, but perhaps fit a certain stereotype the government looks for. An example of that would be when 9/11 took place, and many innocent Middle Easterners were becoming targets of the terrorist attack because they fit under a certain stereotype. Their invasion of privacy was violated for no reason, only for the fact of their name or ethnic background. That underlines the fact that the government can go too far and abuse their power of looking past privacy. They should only be granted to look into personal information if there is legitimate reason. As for the person to decide if it is a legitimate reason, I think should be a group of professionals. The group should include some sort of lawyer and representatives of the technology company. Therefore, they can deem what's legal and to what extent they think is right to give out the privacy of a certain person.

kristen said...

I believe our security has to be a priority over privacy especially when lives are at stakes. The fact that the federal government is not always trusted with personal information such as emails, phone conversations and other private information can be mitigated I believe the same way that our branches of government are organized in ways that prevent one branch to overpower the other, to prevent abuses of power. The NSA in this case must be made accountable with private information by obtaining court order to survey certain suspicious individuals or groups suspected of terrorism, drugs trafficking or perpetrators of crimes that endanger people. Individuals within the NSA must be made to record their identify, acquire certain levels of privilege and credentials so that they are also accountable to the misuse of such information (i.e., prevent spying, selling and potential abuse of access to information). People who are not guilty have nothing to hide. Their private information in the wrong hands can certainly be worrisome (think identity theft for example) but if we ensure that the federal government, through checks and balances, show that they can be trusted with this information, then the trade off between privacy vs security clearly is appropriate.

Adjon Tahiraj said...

I agree with what both of you have stated.

Kristen, it was definitely troublesome that one worker could get his hands on all that information a couple years ago when he released it. The NSA definitely needs to improve its clearance levels and have strict restrictions on when the government can check into peoples information. And government officials should have to get warrants before obtaining someones information.

And Meghan, I agree with the points you made. Minorities do get racially profiled too much in this country, and the "safety first" arguments shouldn't allow policemen to obtain the personal information of a Middle Eastern or Outsider just because they look a certain way.

Anonymous said...

I personally don't necessarily like the idea that the government has access to much of what I do or say online, but I also don't really care. If I want to do benign illegal things through my phone or computer I will do it. If I want to plot a murder or rob a bank I'm write that on post-its and printer paper. If the government insists that this surveillance or invasion of privacy is protecting us then great, look at my dumb emails and texts. I think in the instance of virtual information leading to the conviction of a criminal that is in fact guilty is great. Maybe the government should treat this invasion of privacy like the invasion of a home, if they got probable grounds or a warrant they should be able to see what someone may have tried to hide.