Government intelligence agencies continue their relentless pursuit of an omniscient bearing over its citizenry. This is evidentiary in the FBI's ongoing tussle with Apple corporation over the encrypted data contained within the phone of one of the deceased December, 2015 San Bernardino shooters.
As a shepherd of encryption, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) points out that the attack on data integrity has been heated since the 1990's and all appearances show no end in sight.
The FBI's candid perspective on citizens private data can be seen in a report, "The Director" which CBS's 60 Minutes aired on Oct. 12, 2014, whereby the Director of the FBI was presented with a question concerning the privacy rights of individuals, and their ability to retain data within encrypted devices such as cell phones. His reply was, in effect, that it would be wrong to be able to retain data from the hands of law enforcement, using the analogy of whether it would be acceptable to society if a car's trunk was made so impenetrable that no one could get inside to observe its contents. This is a flawed perspective ; let me explain. Firstly, data stored in a cell phone is not a tangible entity such as that found in the contents of a car's trunk. Data is akin to memory as stored in one's mind. It could be considered a copy of one's thoughts as in the form of notes, ideas, or images. It is, in essence, intellectual property, not unlike one's thoughts or memories stowed away in the grey matter of your brain. So, No, you should not have access to data stored on an encrypted phone or device if the owner, thereof, does not want to divulge it. Regardless of how valuable or critical the information is, it should not be accessible without consent ! Do we allow the torture of suspects for the purpose of extracting data or knowledge they retain in their mind, even if someone else's life is hanging in the balance? No, we do not ! Data should be considered an extension of one's intellectual property and therefore be off-limits.
Law enforcement should conceive and concede to this common sense approach to individual rights and strive to enhance their gumshoe tactics in solving crimes, rather than pursuing the private domains of citizens.
The governments tool of choice to get what they want nowadays is the exploitation of tragedies and terrorism. They will use these instances to force a legal hand in their favor. Apple's decision to fight these demands is not merely based in principle, branding and image, but ultimately on self preservation, for should they bow to the FBI's demands, this precedence will open the gates for every other nation state, both good and bad, to make similar demands. And, with all of these State hands having access to their cookie jar, it would be impossible for Apple to mitigate the misuse of its concessions which would ultimately leave it's products devoid of integrity in the consumer world's eye. As a citizen and consumer, you lose as well. You lose privacy and potentially, a viable brand.
Data integrity is equally important to both business and the individual citizen. As individuals with a stake in these battles, full support for corporations like Apple should be a necessity based in principle, at a minimum. Voice your concerns to Washington. Visit sites like eff.org to explore more options for action.