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Deconstructing the Apple v FBI Saga

A Small Battle for FBI, a Gigantic War for Privacy Rights

An exploration of the evolving contours of the right to privacy by sketching the trajectory of the saga between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. By refusing to comply with the FBI's request to create a backdoor into the iPhone, Apple has taken a robust stance that could influence the actions of many other tech firms worldwide. While Apple's stand marks a victory for the privacy lobby, judicial intervention defining this right can facilitate its crystallisation and harmonious coexistence with other objectives such as national security.

The Apple v Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) saga has been heralded as a key tussle in the battle on the right to privacy. The outcome of this battle could shape the essence of the right to privacy in an era defined by conflicting paradigms of increasing technological intrusions into our personal lives, coupled with unique threats to national security posed by the ubiquitous presence of transnational terrorism. Yet, the prevailing discourse in the case, both in academic and judicial circles, has focused excessively on Apple’s right to not create a backdoor that would unlock Syed Rizwan Farooq’s iPhone to the occlusion of discourse on the invasion of privacy involved with tapping into an individual’s personal data. Such occlusion has led to the degeneration of the tussle between privacy and national security into a clash of two Goliaths: giant corporations on the one hand, and law enforcement agencies on the other. Approaching the dispute from this angle might lead to a temporary stalemate.

Notwithstanding the unfolding events, this article attempts to critique the argumentation put forward by both parties in the saga, and add a new dimension to this debate by analysing both legal and theoretical foundations of an individual’s right to privacy.

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