While Apple Inc. is trying to be a crusader for the people’s right to privacy by refusing to unlock the phone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, surviving victims of the mass shooting want the company to comply with the Federal Government.
Some of the victims are planning to file a legal brief in support for the U.S. government’s attempt to make Apple unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, International Business Times reports.
Stephen Larson is the attorney set to represent the victims. He claims the information on Farook’s phone extends far beyond the Justice Department’s criminal investigation. The contents of the phone could affect the victims’ peace of mind and healing. “They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen,” Larson reportedly said.
The December attack killed 14 people and left 22 wounded; however, it’s not yet clear how many of the victims are banding together to file the brief.
Apple’s argument for not obeying the government’s orders is that despite having no sympathy for terrorists, the company doesn’t want to set a “dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties” as they claim unlocking Farook’s phone would create a backdoor into the smartphone.
Many people have praised Apple for showing loyalty to their customers and rejecting Big Brother’s attempts to flex their powers to get what they want.
However, these supporters may not be aware that Apple has unlocked at least 70 iPhones for the government in the past under the All Writs Act, which is an 18th century statute that says federal courts can issue "all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”
The federal government is now at a great advantage with victims of the attack as their allies. While the human right to privacy is valuable and should be protected, this is a very special circumstance in which a total of 36 individuals and their families have had their lives changed forever and they have no idea why.
The victims and their families can’t begin to gain real closure without knowing — or at least coming close to an idea — why they were targeted by these killers.
Furthermore, gaining insight from Farook’s phone and contacts he may have corresponded with regarding the shooting could be helpful in preventing future attacks.
Carole Adams, mother of Robert Adams who was killed in the attack, spoke out in support of Apple’s decision. “This is what separates us from communism, isn’t it? The fact we have the right to privacy,” she told the New York Post. “I think Apple is definitely within their rights to protect the privacy of all Americans.”
Adams’ points are certainly valid and even if Apple unlocks the phone, those who lost their lives — including her son —will not be returned but there are other surviving victims who deserve answers. By filing a legal brief, they’ve committed to fighting for those answers.
Unlocking Farook’s phone can’t really set a “dangerous precedent” because the precedent was already set the previous 70 times that Apple unlocked peoples’ phones.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau