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Editor at Large

National security vs. the right of privacy

Never been a fan of obtrusive government and always have been a fan of privacy rights.

That’s why the ongoing battle between Apple and the U.S. government is of significant interest and, likely, importance.

The feds want Apple to decrypt, or unlock, the iPhone used by one of the two people who killed 14 others in December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Seems the FBI can’t crack the phone.

Apple is resisting.

So a federal judge this week ruled that Apple must unlock the phone for the FBI to mine for information. (Both San Bernardino attackers, a husband-and-wife team, were killed by police.)

But Apple has vowed to appeal the decision, so this battle – which has been going on behind the scenes for weeks – will continue.

Apple wants its customers to know that it offers secure devices. If the feds get Apple’s encryption code, then, presumably, information on all iPhones can be tapped.

On the other hand, national security these days is paramount. Maybe there is information on the attacker’s phone to help in the war on terror.

Or, perhaps this is just a fishing expedition by the feds.

It’s the latter scenario that is bothersome. If the FBI is just goin’ fishin’, then Apple should not have to disclose its trade secrets.

Plus, allowing access could set a precedent for future clashes between law enforcement and Apple and other high-tech companies.

If Apple is forced to pony up, then who is to say that, in the future, any smartphone, tablet, laptop or other device is lock-down, 100 percent secure? Not only the FBI, but any law enforcement official would be able to tap your smartphone for info.

In this case, this time, here’s hoping the feds walk away, empty-handed.

Either that, or they should hire some tech whizzes who can crack the code.

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