Apple & FBI face off

How Apple is set to profit from their surveillance legal case

Despite Apple’s best efforts, the FBI found a back door.
Credit: 
Supplied by Pixabay
Unless you’ve been holed up in Stauffer Library ignoring your friends and family and the World Wide Web, you’ve probably heard about the legal battle between the FBI and Apple.
 
The government requested that Apple create a backdoor that would allow access to locked iPhones. In this case, specifically to access the phone of the terrorist responsible for the San Bernardino shooting 
in December.
 
As you can imagine, political pundits, media corporations and members of the public quickly picked their sides. Even Trump made a typically half-assed remark about a boycott of Apple products. And Edward Snowden, the famous National Security Agency whistleblower, called BS on the FBI’s insistence that they required Apple’s help to crack the encryption. 
 
Snowden was right. This week, the FBI dropped their case against Apple after they managed to unlock the iPhone with the help of an unknown third party — after weeks of insisting that the only avenue for unlocking was 
through Apple.
 
While the media has focused largely on the FBI ‘Big Brother’ type surveillance, Apple has escaped criticism. Apple emerged from this fiasco as a valorized body sticking it to an oppressive government. Though I don’t think the state should be given any more surveillance capabilities than they already have, I’m left wondering how Apple may be profiting from this heavily publicized case.
 
In its privacy policy, the tech giant specifies that it doesn’t monetize and sell private consumer browsing data like other companies, but it’s worth noting that Apple is a profit-driven entity. Unlike the state, there are weak regulations surrounding what Apple can choose to do with data syphoned from every Apple user. 
 
It’s also worth noting that Apple has already milked the legal case in every possible way to keep the corporation in the spot light. Its privacy policy consistently references the case. All messages are clear: Apple exists to protect its users. 
 
Apple is poised to profit from the PR boost after challenging the government on issues of security. 
 
However, this case isn’t black and white. Apple is right to challenge the government on its request. Humouring the FBI would create a legal precedent and open a Pandora’s Box of state-led surveillance. Thousands of requests would follow. It could cascade into complete civic transparency, all the while cloaking government intentions. 
 
While the government has abandoned their case against Apple, their attempts to access the private lives of millions of citizens aren’t over. This was only one legal battle out of many to come — all aiming to set a new precedent in state-run surveillance. 
 
However, I wouldn’t be so quick to throw myself into Apple’s lot either — at a whim they could change their privacy policy and exploit user data like every other tech corporation. As the media storm around this case settles down, there are no heroes. Just powerful groups vying for a more profitable standpoint.

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