By Amanda Hayes, active member
For us public relations enthusiasts, the current situation between the U.S. government and Apple has sparked a social media frenzy. Glued to our iPhone screens, we’re constantly updating Twitter waiting for new information to see how this will unfold.
On Feb. 16, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, sent a message to inform its loyal customers of the pressures they are facing from the government and their stance on this issue. The letter also informed their stakeholders that Apple intends to remain loyal to its commitment to privacy for their customers and that this scandal will not interfere with their customer-brand relationship. The letter was far-reaching, being shared and reposted on various social media outlets.
What is the U.S. Government asking Apple to do?
The U.S. Government is asking for Apple to build a backdoor for the iPhone, particularly an iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook. Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik are responsible for the San Bernardino shooting that killed fourteen people and wounded twenty-two at Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2. This backdoor would allow the government to get through the passcode of this iPhone and would require Apple to build a new iOS software that would allow these restrictions to be bypassed. The government is using the All Writs Act of 1789 to support this request against Apple that they are planning to oppose.
What is Apple’s reaction?
The message by Cook was clear in its purpose and maintained the image of the Apple Corporation. Everywhere you turn, you can see someone glued to their iPhone or researching on their Mac. It is the way of today’s world. Apple users expect to have complete and total privacy and trust the company to protect them. Cook acknowledges this relationship in the letter stating, “doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data.”
Building a backdoor for this iPhone would have far-reaching effects on the security of the Apple system. There is no way to say that this could not happen again since once the system is created it could be reused. Cook argues that this is not something to be taken lightly and, if created, will remove everything that Apple has built to protect the privacy of their many customers. Apple has asked for an extension to challenge the court’s order by Feb. 26. So far, the hearing is scheduled for March 22 with the U.S. District Court.
How is this a public relations explosion?
There have always been worries about the government tapping into phones, however; this is an example where it is getting opposed. The debate of whether the U.S. government should have access to this backdoor can be discussed all day. However, a powerful part of this is to see such an undeniably huge influencer in our culture taking a stand against this issue.
Apple is not backing down and has taken great efforts to ensure its customers they will stay loyal to them. This press release is something that Apple customers can read that will allow them to maintain the trust that they had or gain trust of their privacy that they may never have considered before. Should privacy be sacrificed for security? That question is not an easy one to answer.