The following is an excerpt from Gary Hart and Cyrus Vance | February 23, 2016 | Huffingtonpost.com |
Many of us are as ardent about preserving the Fourth Amendment protection against unwarranted search and seizure by the state as others are about the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It could be argued that if Fourth Amendment protections are honored, those who claim to fear the government will find it less important to arm themselves.
One of us has more than 50 years' experience in national security matters, including unheeded warnings of terrorist attacks on America. The other is currently the public prosecutor for Manhattan, one of the world's premier terror targets. Yet we yield to no one, including Apple executives, in our commitment to the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment.
If law enforcement is required to show probable cause to a judge that a crime has been committed or is being planned in order to execute a search, that burden -- not warrant-proof encryption -- is the strongest protection of our privacy from state intrusion.
It is within the context of this inalienable Constitutional right that the current controversy over encryption of an Apple iPhone, used by a deceased terrorist in San Bernardino, arises. A federal magistrate has ordered Apple to provide unique software code to help disable a security feature on this phone so that federal investigators can determine if the perpetrator was communicating with others in a network -- others who might themselves be plotting similar attacks.
Supported by other companies in the communications technology industry, Apple is resisting the court order on the grounds that providing sworn federal agents with secret software code to assist in their unlocking of one device will jeopardize the privacy of its millions of customers.
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