The One Where Ethics Collides with Security

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Darshit Shah, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
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A new member to join Apple and WhatsApp will be Viber. Viber has announced that it is set to roll out end-to-end encryption for all text, video, and voice communication through its platform. In future, you can expect others to follow suit. Thus, the ongoing debate over encryption will fume up more.

Initially, the two to tango over the encryption matter were Apple and FBI. FBI had asked Apple to create a backdoor which would help FBI unlock the iPhone of a terrorist, who was involved in the terrorist act at San Bernardino, California. Apple argues that this would grant even the bad guys access to the phone thus putting privacy and security at risk. Also, other government in future could potentially make similar requests.

When Whatsapp released its end to end encryption for users, the media was abuzz with legal, moral, ethical and all sorts of arguments and counter arguments over encryption. There are two parties involved in the encryption row. One who support the full end to end encryption, like Apple and WhatApp. And the other who need data from the encrypted devices of terrorists and other harmful agents- the government organizations. There are no clear winners in this debate. As both parties have rights and wrongs.

Considering the case of Apple vs FBI, FBI wants Apple to create a backdoor to access information as it is a national security issue. Apple is objecting to co-operate with FBI for it is susceptible to loose future market share and profit as one of its primary USP will be at stake. So it seems Apple should comply to FBI demands. However, should Apple comply to FBI’s request, then creating a ” backdoor” may also put private data of citizens in some other’s hand which will be a threat to individual security and in turn become a threat to nation’s security.

One way out in such scenarios could possibly be the organization could hire a third party to crack the encryption. However, only time will tell what turns and twists will come to this issue.

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