Will we ever stop talking about Apple? (Sorry!)

I know, I know – we’ve definitely talked Apple to death during class but with its recent dealings with the FBI, I wanted to take a look at the company from another perspective other than the ones we’ve delved into during class – “privacy and security in the digital age”.  While the FBI has officially dropped its case with Apple in the unlocking of an iPhone belonging to one of the individuals responsible for the attacks in San Bernardino on December 2nd of last year in California, the turmoil within the technology sector and unrest in the population is sure to continue until there’s a ruling on whether or the government should have access to “secure” and private data of its citizens. Is it ethical to invade the privacy of others? Would this lead to a precedent of allowing the government to invade the privacy, and maybe even overstep its boundaries, of the citizens it should be protecting? Does Apple have a duty to help the FBI in circumstances such as this one presents?

For my paper, I’ve started to look into sources via WorldCat (library database) as well as Google Scholar. I intend to focus on justice as well as deontology. In terms of justice, I plan to delve into Rawl’s theory of justice and about whether or not privacy and security of an individual’s technological devices are considered a liberty and if so, does the government really have a right to demand Apple to violate this liberty? After all, Rawls would argue that the every individual in society has rights that cannot be violated even if it is for the benefit of everyone else.

In terms of deontology, I plan to delve into whether or not Apple has a duty to help the government unlock personal devices, especially in special circumstances that could save the lives of many people. Since deontology focuses on the act itself rather than the consequences of the act, is the act of unlocking an iPhone right or wrong? Nozick claims that deontology “forbids some acts that maximize the welfare overall”, is this true in this scenario? Can one be ethical even if they aren’t maximizing the welfare of everyone?

This paper will be easily linked to paper 3 where I can delve more into the policy areas regarding this issue. As it is an issue that will become more and more prevalent as the world advances and becomes more technological than it is now, the fight between Silicon Valley and the government is just beginning.

This topic is definitely controversial and I’d appreciate any feedback that you have in order to help me strengthen my paper/focus!

Some Preliminary Sources (excluding those from class):

FBI Unlocks Terrorists iPhone without Apple’s Help (Article – WSJ)


Privacy in the age of big data : recognizing threats, defending your rights, and protecting your family by Theresa Payton; Ted Claypoole; Howard A Schmidt

No Warrant, No Problem (Article)

All the Ways Government Can Use Your Phone


4 thoughts on “Will we ever stop talking about Apple? (Sorry!)

  1. Something that I found interesting about this case is now that the FBI can unlock iPhones does Apple have a duty to close this loophole? If they do so I’m confident that it would just lead to another lawsuit, but as you discussed up above I’m not sure whether or not Apple has a duty to help the government unlock personal devices.


    1. Great question. I don’t know enough of the technicalities, but I feel like the government should have no access to any device without specific probable cause. In other words if a certain device is reasonably believed to be relevant, then it should be able to get access.

      But, if enabling that gives them access to essentially any device 9due to the nature of the software), then I suspect the government will always tend to overreach and abuse the power.

      Michael Hayden, I think, former CIA or NSA director, has a book out about this now, I think.

      Here it is.


  2. Do not do deonotology and ethics. It is too much. Delve into one topic and get one good source that addresses ethics and put yourself in dialogue with it. We are going for depth, not breadth, in this assignment.

    You will find some interesting facts as you dig in. There is no actual enumerated right to privacy in the US constitution. It is only implied. The government already considers itself authorized to search your home and property for criminal investigations. So, you need to reset your starting point for the debate.

    This is a good topic. The technology itself is a major factor. An old telegraph or phone company did not face the same issue because those technologies only transmitted data: they did not record or make copies. The fact that the US government backed down doesn’t affect the importance of the topic and your paper.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s