Since December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, federal investigators have been pressuring Apple to write a code that would hack the iPhone that belonged to one of the deceased shooters. The government has an interest in unlocking the phone’s passcode, believing there to be possible intelligence of ISIS or clues to finding additional terrorists. The concern for privacy rights and autonomy has fueled the argument against Apple creating the hack code, however. As Ted Olsen, Apple’s attorney, argues, demanding the company to recreate a code, effectively “changing” its product, surpasses the line and opens the door to invading in others’ privacy.
The Los Angeles Times quoted Professor Timothy Lytton in its Feb. 23 article “Car Makers Had to Install Air Bags; Shouldn’t Apple Have to Hack Its iPhone?” Professor Lytton explained that “Apple is arguing that the cellphone is a private space and that the user’s privacy would be infringed.” He furthered argued that “[t]he government is asking for a modification of a product that implicates an important right. Your phone is a private sphere of substance, just like your bedroom.”
Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law and a member of the Center for Law, Health & Society. His expertise is in the public policy implications of tort litigation. Lytton is the editor of Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts (2005).