Apple's steadfast refusal to help the FBI access a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters has left many scratching their heads. Why would the country's biggest company deny assistance to the government in a terrorism case—especially when the feds have a warrant to search the device?
In his column Wednesday, New York Times technology writer Farhood Manjoo packs one of the best explanations I've read yet into two paragraphs. Manjoo writes, accurately, that the outcome of the showdown will have far-ranging repercussions for our increasingly digital future:
Consider all the technologies we think we want — not just better and more useful phones, but cars that drive themselves, smart assistants you control through voice, or household appliances that you can monitor and manage from afar. Many will have cameras, microphones and sensors gathering more data, and an ever-more-sophisticated mining effort to make sense of it all. Everyday devices will be recording and analyzing your every utterance and action.
This gets to why tech companies, not to mention we users, should fear the repercussions of the Apple case. Law enforcement officials and their supporters argue that when armed with a valid court order, the cops should never be locked out of any device that might be important in an investigation.