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Apple Privacy Debate

In February, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company plans to fight a government order to unlock a cellphone of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino murders.  Both law enforcement and privacy advocates find many areas of agreement and disagreement in this conflict.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo remarked on this law enforcement challenge, "iPhone and Apple and other manufacturers are designing their equipment so even they can't get to it, and I have a huge problem with that." Most citizens need not be concerned about government’s invading their privacy, but police must be able to have information that will help keep the community safe. "I think that we as a nation need to stand up and speak up and understand there will be some consequences in terms of keeping our community and our nation safe," Acevedo added.

Associate Dean Philip Doty, at the University of Texas School of Information, said that important public policy question are raised that society must answer. "Apple will have developed a key that, in essence, unlocks the security protections that Apple not only builds into its products but also guarantees its customers that it will not breach," he explained. Doty, a privacy-issues expert, believes Apple would make a serious mistake to comply with the government's request, "A legal precedent is established which makes it easier for other federal jurisdictions and other jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere to create similar breaches of protection."  Doty went on to explain that the conflict lies between our privacy expectations and what protections we expect from police and the military. "These are both important principals. We don't want to lose sight of either, but it's very difficult to steer between these principals," he says.