The same Justice Department that had no concern for its reputation when it authorized waterboarding and spying on US citizens doesn't understand why Apple is so concerned for its reputation in resisting DOJ demands to hack its smartphones in a terrorist investigation. DOJ is perplexed why Apple is concerned that allowing the government to hack its customers is bad for business. (Imagine that, capitalists worrying about business.)
It's not just terrorists. In New York, the Manhattan district attorney's office said its investigators are locked out of more than 175 Apple devices that could provide crucial evidence in criminal cases.
Apple insists they are acting to protect customers' privacy. Complying, they said, would create a back door to breach the iPhone's security features. Apple insists the dispute isn't over the unknown contents of one phone, but about the government trying to establish a precedent that it can force a company to hack its customers' devices. That could open floodgates for requests from local, state and federal prosecutors, they warn, and cripple customers' confidence in Apple products, especially in lucrative overseas markets where distrust of government surveillance is higher. which might use the software to trace secret communications of political opponents and human rights activists.
What the DOJ wants to do would make us less secure, even though it's in the name of keeping us safe from harm. Powerful governments, democratic and totalitarian alike, want access to user data for both law enforcement and social control. Apple cannot build a backdoor that only works for a particular type of government, or only in the presence of a particular court order.
Either everyone gets security or no one does. Either everyone gets access or no one does. The current case is about a single iPhone 5c, but the precedent it sets will apply to all smartphones, computers, cars and everything the Internet of Things promises. The danger is that the court's demands will pave the way to the DOJ forcing Apple and others to reduce the security levels of their smart phones and computers, as well as the security of cars, medical devices, homes, and everything else that will soon be computerized. The DOJ may be targeting the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, but its actions imperil us all.
But when has that ever concerned the DOJ?