The balance between security and liberty has become an issue at the center of our political discourse since the events of 9/11. The Patriot Act came under scrutiny when first introduced, extending the government’s ability to tap into private information in the interest of national security. The latest battle to come up in this issue is happening in the wake of the San Bernadino attacks: the FBI wants access to attacker Syed Rizwan Farook’s encrypted iPhone data, which Apple is unwilling to provide. Apple CEO Tim Cook penned a highly publicized response, stating that protecting privacy for all users is the value at stake. For their part, Google, Microsoft and other technology companies have offered their support to Apple’s stance.
In order to make some headway on this issue, the House Judiciary Committee brought Apple to a hearing named “The Encryption Tightrope”. The FBI’s stance does carry some merit, as Director James Comey said, "I believe that the logic of encryption will bring us, in the not too distant future, to a place where all of our papers and effects are entirely private. If there are warrant-proof spaces in American life, what does that mean? What are the costs of that?"
In the meantime, congress is exploring the best way to address the issue: a bill was introduced to form a National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges that would address cases like this one in the future. Where San Bernadino is concerned, it does not appear that the government can crack Apple just yet.