A recent poll suggested that the majority of Americans support the FBI and its order to open the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. While some of those voices may be less aware of the specifics of the situation, Apple has the backing of the husband of one of the survivors of the terrorist attack, which left 14 people dead and 22 others seriously injured, after he changed his mind over the case.
Salihin Kondoker, whose wife Anies Kondoker was shot three times in the attack but avoided the main hall after taking a trip to the bathroom, filed a friend of the court brief siding with Apple in its dispute with the FBI, as BuzzFeed first reported. Writing in a letter to Judge Sheri Pym, Kondoker, Kondoker explains how his opinion on the case turned when he delved deeper into the longer term implications of the FBI’s order.
“When I first learned Apple was opposing the order 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 writes.
Kondoker also makes the point that shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone was owned and operated by the County of San Bernardino. That was standard and “common knowledge” among all employees, he says, including his wife who “did not use use [her phone] for personal communication.”
“Why then would someone store vital contacts related to an attack on a phone they knew the county had access to. They destroyed their personal phones after the attack. And I believe they did that for a reason,” Kondoker says.
Tim Cook previously called the FBI’s request to develop software to grant access to the data on the device “chilling.” In a lengthy interview last week, Cook lamented the potential for such a backdoor to get into the wrong hands and cause damage to “hundreds of millions” of people.
“We have no sympathy for terrorists,” Cook said. “We’re not protecting their privacy, we’re protecting the rights… and public safety of everyone else… Developing that software, it’s so powerful it has the capability to unlock other iPhones. That is the issue.”
In a earlier editorial, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI isn’t out to create a backdoor or ongoing access to iPhones. Apple claims it has provided all of the user data that it has on file for Farook, but Comey suggested that the FBI has a duty to leave no stone unturned in its search for information.
“Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead,” he wrote in legal blog LawFare.
BuzzFeed has a full copy of Salihin Kondoker’s letter here.