Re: Right v. Wrong
Where does the greater public good lie? In accessing potential information about other terrorist cells, information which a vigilant FBI, NSA, et al. should already have from their regular operations in this area OR the damage to be caused worldwide to this company? I'm in a position to have private opinions but not to make the public decision so I just ask questions.
Fair enough, but the "greater good" question is skewed by deliberate omission of consequences by the demanding parties.
What is being asked here is NOT as limited as the parties involved seek to suggest because of the way the US legal system works, and none of the parties involved has the power to limit the consequences. As a matter of fact, by knowingly specifying limits they MUSt know not to apply to the precedent this sets, it could be argued that FBI, judge and DoJ are colluding to obfuscate what this order must be really about (the nature of the misdirection turns this pretty much into a certainty).
If we strip the Apple logo off this case, and take away the emotional aspects which are only added as sauce to force a public opinion, we end up with the FBI asking a company to publicly break the security of its product, security it has spent a long time developing.
It is worth mentioning here that the owners of the phone originally DID have access as the phone was in an MDM, but they screwed up and now want Apple to bail them out.
The Greater Good questions are thus:
1 - Can it be legally permitted to force a company to commit commercial suicide by publicly breaking its own product?
2 - It is right to ask a company to do this after it has already assisted in getting any iCloud data (via a password reset) and thus shown to be willing to assist where it can, especially in the light of the fact that this phone was NOT wiped whereas all others WERE cleared by the criminals, which makes the likelihood of this device containing anything worth the effort pretty low?
3 - is it right to so burden a company with the mistakes made by customers?
4 - it is acceptable to set all of the above as a legal precedent that will allow permanent legal harassment of ANY OEM by demanding the above 3 items again and again?
The issue is far wider than Apple, and especially the efforts to distract the audience from the precedent-setting nature of this request sends up red flares by anyone who is interested in correct execution of law and order. You would be hard pressed to find a soul who would not like to hand the FBI any data in that phone, but the method the FBI and now the DoJ have chosen have extremely severe consequences, consequences that will render the US IT industry basically untrustworthy.
If this gets to pass, it's like a very big OFF switch to Silicon Valley, jeopardising not only the security of US voters, but also of clients abroad. You're talking about the safety of billions, and damages comfortably hitting multiple billions of dollars.
If you want a small taste of what is to come, just do a survey of US companies how much they are already losing as a consequence of Facebook vs Europe. It'll be much, much worse.