The top human rights authority at the United Nations warned Friday that if the FBI succeeds in forcing Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, it could have “tremendous ramifications” around the world and “potentially [be] a gift to authoritarian regimes, as well as to criminal hackers.”.
The statement came a day after a group of tech companies and other people had backed up Apple, stating that FBI’s demands could have a devastating impact on digital privacy going forward.
“In order to address a security-related issue related to encryption in one case, the authorities risk unlocking a Pandora’s Box that could have extremely damaging implications for the human rights of many millions of people, including their physical and financial security,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement Friday.
“Encryption tools are widely used around the world, including by human rights defenders, civil society, journalists, whistle-blowers and political dissidents facing persecution and harassment,” Hussein said.
Apple is fighting a judge’s order directing the company to help the FBI unlock an iPhone found after the shootout that took place on December 2nf in San Bernardino, California. While the Justice Department and other law enforcement groups are relying on the argument that this process is required for one investigation, Apple is claiming that if they allow such a backdoor to their software, FBI’s victory could be used in countless other ways.
In case you are not familiar, the locked iPhone 5C belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife, Tafsheen Malik, fatally shot 14 people and wounded 22 others during the attack. The two individuals had pledged loyalty to the Islamic States. The authorities want to find out if they had any contact or help from overseas sources.
Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Snapchat and Microsoft are some of the companies that have backed Apple in this effort.