Image [cc] Josh Bancroft

This morning, the American Library Association came out against the FBI’s attempt to order Apple to unlock an iPhone connected to the San Bernardino shooters, who murdered 14 people and injured another 22 back in December 2015. ALA’s Managing Director of the Office of Government Relations issued the following statement:

The only thing that could make last December’s attack in San Bernardino more horrible would be its use to profoundly erode the Constitution’s protection of our fundamental freedoms. Man­dated ‘back doors’ into encrypted systems cannot successfully be labelled ‘Bad Guys Keep Out.’  The only way to protect our data and, ultimately, our freedom is to fight any attempt by the courts and Congress to hack the Constitution.  ALA stands with Apple.

I also stand with Apple on this issue, and encourage my peer Law Librarians and Legal Information and Technical professionals to do the same. Librarians have always stood up for the rights of citizens against government intrusion. Long before there was a public uproar, or Edward Snowden, Librarians were pointing out and fighting the privacy breaches of the PATRIOT Act. It is time to stand up again and support the Constitution over the individual situation, regardless of the horror and tragedy surrounding the reason we wish to bend the rules.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, issued a response this week rejected the United States government’s request where he underlined the dangerous precedent this order would create:

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

It appears that the primary reason that the FBI is asking Apple to break the encryption and open the phone is one of convenience and cost. The government has not exhausted less intrusive methods of opening the shooter’s phone. Yes, it may cost more money and time to unlock the phone without Apple’s help, but it will cost far less in what this dangerous precedent creates if the Government successfully orders Apple to unlock that phone.

I stand with Apple.