“It was guns that killed innocent people, not technology.”
In the wake of the December 2 terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead, a debate pitting security against privacy has waged between the FBI and Apple. As part of its investigation, the FBI ordered the tech company to hack open shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone. But Apple fought the order, leading to a hotly contested court battle.
The FBI argues that Apple’s encryption hampers law enforcement’s ability to investigate serious crimes and prevent future attacks. Apple argues that creating software for its devices with a “back door” open to law enforcement leaves its users vulnerable to being hacked by governments and cyberterrorists. As the debate wages on, someone with a personal connection to the attacks has spoken up, taking a brave stance.
Salihin Kondoker, whose wife, Anies Kondoker, was shot three times in the San Bernardino attack and survived, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief, backing Apple. In a letter to Judge Sheri Pym obtained by BuzzFeed News, Kondoker argues, “When I first learned Apple was opposing the order [to hack Farook’s phone] I was frustrated that it would be yet another roadblock. But as I read more about their case, I have come to understand … that this software the government wants them to use will be used against millions of other innocent people. I share their fear,” he wrote.
Being that his wife and Farook were both county employees, Kondoker questions if there is anything valuable on Farook’s county-issued iPhone to begin with. “Why then would someone store vital contacts related to an attack on a phone they knew the county had access to? They [Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik] destroyed their personal phones after the attack. And I believe they did that for a reason,” Kondoker wrote. Although the fight is over encryption, Kondoker believes we’re debating the wrong issue. “In the wake of this terrible attack, I believe strongly we need stronger gun laws,” he wrote. “It was guns that killed innocent people, not technology.”
The ongoing debate over security versus privacy is one of the most important discussions happening in post-9/11 America. Kondoker’s stance is important because even though his wife was nearly killed by terrorists, he hasn’t had a knee-jerk reaction to the attack. He can step back and see how sacrificing the privacy of not only Americans but people across the world, in favor of security, may be more problematic in the long run.