San Bernadino killers: UN backs Apple in standoff with FBI

San Bernadino killers: UN backs Apple in standoff with FBI

Saturday, March 5, 2016 6:51 am

Apple and its CEO Tom Cook

Apple and its CEO Tom Cook

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Hussein  urged the U.S. authorities to proceed with great caution in the ongoing legal process involving the Apple computer company and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“In order to address a security-related issue related to encryption in one case, the authorities risk unlocking a Pandora’s Box that could have extremely damaging implications for the human rights of many millions of people, including their physical and financial security,” Zeid said.

He urged all concerned to look not just at the merits of the case itself but also at its potential wider impact.

“The FBI deserves everyone’s full support in its investigation into the San Bernardino killings,” Zeid said. “But this case is not about a company seeking to protect criminals and terrorists, it is about where a key red line necessary to safeguard all of us from criminals and repression should be set.

“There are many ways to investigate whether or not these killers had accomplices besides forcing Apple to create software to undermine the security features of their own phones,” he said.

According to the UN human rights chief, this is not just about one case and one IT company in one country, it will have tremendous ramifications for the future of individuals’ security in a digital world which is increasingly inextricably meshed with the actual world we live in.
“A successful case against Apple in the U.S., will set a precedent that may make it impossible for Apple or any other major international IT company to safeguard their clients’ privacy anywhere in the world,” the UN Human Rights Chief said.

Earlier this week a federal magistrate judge, in a separate case in New York, rejected a government request to compel Apple to help it extract information from an iPhone belonging to a suspect in a drugs case.

By citing the above case, Zeid urged to take inspiration from the Apple-FBI cases to hold a much-needed profound examination of the highly complex and constantly evolving issues relating to privacy and security in the digital age, given the importance of strong encryption in safeguarding security and human rights.

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