Is Apple Right in Rejecting the FBI’s Request?


This headline has been dominating the tech news the past few weeks. Apple is fighting the FBI who wants them to allow access to an iPhone that was linked to the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting. It’s caused some mixed feelings by many. Is Apple right to reject the FBI’s request?

Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik attended a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. Of the eighty employees, Farook, American-born but of Pakistani descent, was one of them. The couple opened fire and killed fourteen and injured twenty-two more and were later killed in a shootout with the police. FBI investigators recovered electronic devices belonging to them including flash drives, hard drives, and Farook’s iPhone 5C.

The FBI would like to get into the iPhone to discover contacts, photos, messages, etc. to help them solve the case and figure out why they targeted the holiday party, if they planned any more attacks, and whether or not they were working in conjunction with overseas terrorists. But the phone is locked with a passcode, and after ten incorrect attempts, an iPhone wipes all the data.

The FBI is demanding that Apple help them break into the phone. They want them to create a backdoor into the iPhone, but Apple is afraid of any future implications of such a tool or method.

This, of course, is something that could eventually affect you and your device. In answering this question, remember what you would want the maker of your cell phone or OS to do. Would you want them to be able to break into your phone even if you have it locked?

Is Apple right in rejecting the FBI’s request?

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. I think in this instance they should make a way only for this instance only. I also feel that if Apple continues to refuse that the FBI should arrest all the Apple CEO’S for obstruction of justice! There are many lives at risk here by them not helping the FBI access those phone records. I do agree with protecting people’s privacy however in this case the owners of these Iphones gave up that right when they murdered innocent people!

  2. If the phone is built the way it should be, Apple simply can not help FBI because there is no back door at all. Also for them. But if there is a back door, sooner or later somebody will break in. So why would anybody pay so much money to get insecure device?

  3. You can not trust any government from making a clone [pirate copy] of the program to unlock it. Then reverse engineer the tech and then use it for unauthorized search and seizures of data. The 4th Amendment would be violated.
    They then claim “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree” was justified. That is why the government must be on a leash.
    Power of corruption and violate the privacy just to justify putting people in prison or slavery for the state is wrong.
    Most of the CI used by law enforcement are forced to do this with threats of imprisonment of even death if they do not comply.
    We can not trust the government official from making a copy of anything, especially if they are ordered not too.
    Our American history proves this.

  4. If the FBI was as good as they claim to be they would not need the help of Apple to get what they need and really if they was as good as they are telling the American people they would have known about this attack before it happened. It was only a matter of time before the truth come out that their past so called intelligence where they stopped so many attacks was a setup. The fact is if we give them this type of control now, we give up more of our privacy and it has been eroded enough that we dont need to be handing over the golden key. They can investigate this like they have done for the last 100 years, I do not consent to giving them any more control over my privacy!

  5. From the poll:

    “They should build the tool but destroy it right afterwards”

    That’s not possible. In order to comply with the FBI’s demand, Apple has to create an insecure version of iOS and then *give it* to the FBI. Once they’ve done that, Apple no longer has any say/control over what the FBI does with it, and while they can destroy *their* copy of it, they *can’t* destroy the FBI’s copy. This is why Apple is objecting to the FBI’s demand…because once the FBI has such a version of iOS, they can use it on *any* iPhone, not *just Farook’s* iPhone.

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