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Apple's stance vs FBI highlights corporate privacy responsibility

Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:52

It's rare for one of the world's largest corporations to oppose a court order, ostensibly made in the name of national security, and be applauded for it.

Yet Apple declining to help the FBI access San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone has been backed by prominent figures including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as thousands of privacy-conscious consumers.

That's not to say there isn't backing for the FBI, with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and controversial figure Donald Trump among those suggesting Apple should not obstruct the FBI's investigation.

Cyber security balance to be reached

Balancing individual privacy with national security is proving to be a compelling subject, and it's possible that there's no right answer. Indeed, Apple's stance - that helping the FBI access the iPhone would set a dangerous precedent for its users' privacy - has been divisive.

But Apple knows only too well the damage that can be done by losing the public's trust around privacy. Past hacking scandals and data breaches have significantly impacted their sales and share prices, taking months to recover from. Indeed, some commentators have accused Apple of turning this debate into a marketing campaign.

Regardless of your take on the ethics of this debate, Apple's stance suggests that, where PR and marketing is concerned, individuals' privacy seems to trump all else.

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Image Credit: Mike Deerkoski

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