Last December, there was a shooting in San Bernardino where 14 people were killed and 22 injured. One of the shooters was in possession of an iPhone that contains at least one contact of an alleged terrorist.
The FBI tried to unlock it, but failed due to the recent encryption of all iPhones operating on iOS 8. This means that the only way to retrieve data is by using a passcode.
Because of this, the judge ruled that Apple would have to assist the FBI in unlocking the device in any way possible.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, wrote a strongly worded letter about the dangers of helping the FBI. He said that if Apple were to rewrite the operating system, everyone would have access to it; hackers with sophisticated technology could break into any phone in 18 minutes at most.
Even though Apple is strongly against this ruling, the company doesn’t sympathize with terrorists or believe the intentions of the FBI are malicious. It wants to protect its customers at all costs which means making tough decisions.
This is definitely an ethical issue which relates to the topic we discussed in class. Helping the government would be a decision in support of the people who were affected by the shooting, but it would open threats against the company and undermine its core values. Taking a stand against the FBI would protect Apple users, but would impede on the investigation of the shooting.