First off, this wouldn’t have prevented the San Bernardino terrorist attack, because the FBI didn’t NEED ACCESS TO THE iPHONE TO KNOW THEY WERE RADICAL MUSLIMS. This could be ascertained by even the most cursory search of Tashfeen Malik’s public social media posts.
But the Federal Government under Obama (and sadly Bush was guilty of this too) is determined to whitewash islam into what it clearly isn’t: The Religion of Peace™ so agents are forbidden to check the PUBLIC social media record of immigrants and so let her into the United States.
But back to the point, the Government DOES NOT NEED access to a phone to find out that Farook and Malik were islamic terrorists, that fact has become apparent. So why do they insist that Apple do what it can’t: decrypt a device they do not have the encryption key to? Because the Federal Government wants to make it illegal to sell devices they cannot gain access to. At issue here isn’t the encryption itself, but the feature of iOS that will erase the data on your device if someone enters the wrong passcode 10 times in a row. The Feds got a judge to order Apple to defeat this feature, thus giving the government unlimited bites at the Apple (bad pun) to gain access to the phone (probably by trying every possible code combination which would be a lot easier than brute forcing a 256-bit encrypted data volume. Apple is under no obligation to obey such an order, and the courts have no authority in this manner. In fact, the Feds are relying on an ancient statute from 1789:
(a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.
(b) An alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.
What in that obliges a manufacturer to do the government’s work for them, much less compromise a product of theirs that is doing what it’s supposed to be doing (even if the government and the Tyrant running it doesn’t like that function?)
The way I see it is that it was GOVERNMENT MALFEASANCE that allowed Farook back into this country after being radicalized in Saudi Arabia and Pock-HEE-Ston with his terrorist bride. This is not the fault of Apple Computer, but ultimately a fault that lays on the desk of Barack HUSSEIN Obama. Further erosion of our Liberty and Privacy would not have prevented this attack because the government under Obama is not willing to stop islamic terrorists from entering the United States.
This is why I oppose (and have always opposed the PATRIOT Act). The Rights of Americans don’t go away just because of a foreign religion of terrorism. The rights of the terrorists do. A terrorist forfeits all rights to American Citizenship because he or she has broken the contract.
This came up in the comments, that the iPhone in question is owned by the county government and was issued to Farook… Then this situation is their fault for improper IT management. Where I work, we have company issued iPhones as well. But we use mobile management for them (there are several companies that offer this). Which means, an employee DOES NOT have the ability to lock us out of the device. In fact, they can’t even do a factory reset without the IT Department being involved!