Apple vs. FBI could have larger impacts, UB professor says

BUFFALO, N.Y.(WIVB)- The line in the sand between privacy and security is becoming harder to see.

Tuesday, Apple’s legal team will address Congress in an ongoing battle to justify why the company shouldn’t have to give the FBI access into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

“That access is not just going to be limited to the government, there’s going to be bad guys who are eventually going to get access to that back door as well,” said Associate Professor at UB, Arun Vishwanath.

Vishwanath specializes in cyber issues and cyber security.

The Apple vs. FBI fight is a slippery slope, he told News 4.

He doubts the FBI will be granted the full access it desires, but if it were, it could impact the future of American tech companies.

“Part of the fear here, is that if we create back doors, Europe and nations across the world are going to say well look, we don’t want Apple’s operating system,” he said.

In 2014, the European Court of Justice tossed out an agreement between the EU and the U.S. that allowed firms to transfer data in mass quantities to their servers in the states.

The court stated indiscriminate surveillance as the reason for tossing out the deal.

While Apple has stated it’s working to protect users from the government, Vishwanath points out, there’s another side to this argument.

Apple protects itself from legal responsibility in the event a hacker finds you through one of apps sold in their app store.

“If a hacker breaks into your phone or into your home through a device that’s connecting through an app on Apple’s ecosystem, you cannot go after Apple, even though you purchased the app or downloaded the app from apple’s app store.”

For the average iPhone user, this is a First Amendment fight, said Vishwanath.

“Our mobile devices are reflections of who we are. And so when the government says I need access to this, I need a mechanism to be able to access this without you knowing about it, that’s a big deal.”

Monday, in a drug case in Brooklyn, a judge said the U.S. could not order Apple to unlock an iPhone for the FBI.

Vishwanath noted there aren’t really modern laws in place to address these concerns.

Apples attorneys said the FBI order for the San Bernardino suspect’s iPhone is essentially a new version of an act from 1789.

The UB professor told News 4 new legislation should be drafted, as this debate isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

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