FBI Vs Apple: Judgment Decides the Future of Privacy in Smart Phones

Governments could gain access to your darkest, most personal data in your phone – and there's nothing you can do about it

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By Rustam Singh


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It's the most talked about debate in the technology industry in 2016: FBI vs Apple in US courts. The results of this intense hearing could result in a landmark verdict that determines the future of how we perceive encryption, privacy and user data in the future, not just in Apple or in America, but throughout the world and across all devices. This started from a spiral of tragic events because of which the FBI wants access to the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, in December before being killed by law enforcement. FBI in its fumble to unlock the iPhone quickly, accidently reset the password of the phone, which made it stop sending data over the cloud. Now the contents of the phone are locked through Apple's strong encryption, which is so privacy protected that not even FBI can unlock/hack it. They thus demanded Apple to either install a software that logs them inside or send an expert to do the same for them, and ensure future devices have this facility for law enforcement officials.

What is encryption?

Encryption was originally invented by use of the military, intelligence and defense only. Encryption scrambles communication/data from source to the receiver to make sure no middle man, if any that somehow manages to tap this data, can make any sense of it without the required key. In simpler words, data over the internet and in smart phones is encrypted with a password, fingerprint or other personal identification methods that prevent unauthorized access, keeping our data and devices securer and private.

Why is the Government interested in encryption unlocks?

For legal reasons, if law enforcement wants access to your data they would need to break through the encryption locks. However, since devices are so advance and brilliantly encrypted today, the governments does have the proper technical skill to do so. They've thus demanded to have permanent access to the devices, for legal purposes.

What's a backdoor?

A back door is a remote access given regardless of the front end security. For example you have the world's most secure device which ensures no one with as big as possible tools can break through the door. However police argue this was they cannot gain access if you're breaking the law either. So they demand to have a universal key which will give them access to your personal device and data. This violates the assurance devices and companies give consumers saying their data is safe with them.

How does this affect the average user?

Now if the government has access to your device regardless of the front end security, it will have unstoppable power to do so. Regardless of the case, history has demonstrated given enough power the government and law enforcement will abuse all powers given to them eventually. This also means all your personal photographs, messages, emails, snapchat images and personal records can be in the hands of a law enforcement official in seconds. This jeopardizes your digital identity, business secretes safety and privacy.

How does it affect an international/Indian Entrepreneurs?

Hackers from Russia and China have already expressed their desire to let the government have access to Apple's data via a backdoor. Installing a backdoor would essentially mean that anyone with access to the loophole would be able to do so. Now if there's a way that lets the law officials do so, it's just a matter of time before anyone rogue also does so. Imagine the methodology leaks out to Chinese hackers and they remotely clone your entire phone – complete with bank accounts, pictures of your loved ones, emails, Facebook password, Snapchat IDs and location data. It can shut down or defame an entire business in no time!

As the trail is till proceeding in courts, there's not much what an average user can do to combat this, but all we can do is patiently wait and hope the judgment rules out in favor of privacy. Let's hope for a fair verdict.

Rustam Singh

Sub-Editor- Entrepreneur.com

Tech reporter.

Contact me if you have a truly unique technology related startup looking for a review and coverage, especially a crowd-funded project looking to launch and coverage.

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