Wednesday, February 24, 2016

112. Apple, Privacy, and the State (1)

Apple refuses to decrypt a terrorist's iPhone because of privacy concerns in spite of an order from a court which is ordering it for national security reasons. Let's be Kantians for a while and tackle the issue as a purely secular problem. Apple is arguing that the universality of the right to privacy applies even to criminals whose purpose is to kill people in support of a political or social agenda. Kant's categorical imperative urges people to act only according to the maxim by which people can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. Apple seems like it is acting like the American hero, protecting the right to privacy of everyone, good or bad people alike, because it believes in privacy. Yet, the Apple statement anchors its position on privacy on the customer-businessman relationship of trust. It has  sworn that its customer's data is private and therefore it would stand by it, regardless if one of it's customer turns out to be a terrorist. In effect, Apple is putting forth two things on the table: (1) the universality of the value that compels it to honor its word to its customers which binds its to 2) protect the universality of the right to privacy of its customers. Yet, the way Apple words its statement appears to be that were it not for the promise of privacy, it would have honored the court order. Tim Cook says, "Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn't come easy. That's why we have and will always work as hard as we can to earn and keep it." Thus, if we break down this dilemna further, it appears not to be about privacy but about the promise of customer experience. In other words, it's really what about they promised the customer. Aye, there's the rub. My iPhone sucks at battery life and I'm hunting down the  Apple marketing material that addresses the promise of how my battery would work and pin down Apple to it for a breach of its promise, the point being, this is not about the right to privacy, but a play for more iPhone customers -- hey look at us, we would defy the US Government for you and your iPhone dollars.  Baloney.  Where is the fun in that? But for the next paragraph, let's assume Apple is sincere...

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