Should Apple follow a court order asking it to unlock the contents of an iPhone used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shootings, or should it resist that order? Someone with a personal interest in the matter is supporting Apple.
In a friend-of-the-court brief sent to Judge Sheri Pym, Salihin Kondoker, the husband of Anies Kondoker, who was shot three times in the attack but lived, defended Apple's efforts to protect the information on the shooter's iPhone, Buzzfeed News reported on Monday. Kondoker said he didn't think it likely the phone holds any valuable information and that he supports Apple in the case.
The battle between Apple and the US government points to the difficult balancing act involving privacy and national security. Apple and other tech players argue that encryption, which encodes data so it can't be accessed without the proper key, is needed to protect private information and communications. Law enforcement officials say such technology hampers their ability to investigate criminal and terrorist activity, and they've been leaning on companies to create methods that would allow for data access when necessary.
The Apple case revolves around the San Bernardino massacre in December, in which 14 people died and 22 were injured. The FBI has been eager to get a look at the content of an iPhone 5C used by one of the terrorists to see if it reveals anything useful. But unlocking the phone would require Apple to build a custom version of its iOS software, which, Apple argues, would create a backdoor into not just this iPhone but into other iPhones as well.
In the brief sent to the court, Kondoker said that at first he was frustrated by Apple's opposition to the order, believing it to be another roadblock. But as he learned more about the case, he said, he realized Apple is fighting for something more than just one phone.
Kondoker said he doesn't think any valuable information would have been stored on the phone, because it was a work phone to which the attacker's employer already had access. Also, the terrorists destroyed their personal phones after the attack.
Further, the case is about privacy, according to Kondoker.
"I believe privacy is important and Apple should stand firm in their decision," Kondoker wrote in the brief. "Neither I nor my wife want to raise our children in a world where privacy is the trade-off for security...America should be proud of Apple. Proud that it is an American company and we should protect them and not try to tear them down."
The American public itself is divided over Apple's position. The Pew Research Center said that about 51 percent of those it surveyed believe the company should comply with the court order, while 38 percent said the company should not unlock the iPhone. A Reuters poll found that 46 percent of respondents agreed with Apple's stance, while 35 percent disagreed with it.
Apple may have already scored something of a victory. In a separate case involving the iPhone of an accused drug dealer, a judge for the US District Court in New York ruled on Monday that the government had no right to use a 227-year-old law called the All Writs Act to compel Apple to unlock a specific device and denied its motion.
A hearing to discuss the battle between Apple and the FBI is scheduled for March 22 in federal court in Riverside, California.