What good is privacy if one is dead?

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Tim Cook, Apple CEO

 

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

 

Dear Tim Cook,

I know you mean well when you refused to help FBI gain access to the San Bernardino, CA shooters’ phone. However, I do not agree with your argument to refuse to do so although I share the same concerns. Fourteen people lost their lives that day and 21 others were injured in the tragedy; other terrorist plots which may threaten our way of life here could be in that phone. The shooters would not have gone to that length if that weren’t the case. The information in that phone may help save others’ lives, prevent other tragedies, reveal other terrorists’ information and may even help catch those bad guys roaming freely across the globe including right here in the United States.

I couldn’t help wonder if you’d feel the same way, if you’d take the same position had one of the victims in the San Bernardino shooting been your loved one. Besides, while you’ve expressed concerns about protecting “the privacy of your customers” (which I am one), I wonder what good is privacy if one is dead.

I cannot possibly deny that your concerns are warranted and legitimate; there are so many precedents pointing to government’s abuse of power – black history month is a stark reminder of such; FBI secretly tapped into Martin Luther King Jr’s phone, listened to his private conversations and attempted to blackmail him several times to commit suicide – So, as a black man who is constantly fighting abuse of power everywhere, I am in the best – most unfortunate – position to understand the dilemma. I am nevertheless most inclined to avoid reading about, watching on TV or witnessing my fellow countrymen blown up into pieces right here in the United States due to overzealous concerns of privacy. I must continue to ask then, what good is privacy if one is dead?

I am conscious that in life we always have to make tradeoffs; I am sure you would agree Tim. Every day, you make decisions which require tradeoffs between two ideas, two projects, two products. Tim, I am most willing to tradeoff a little bit of my privacy to protect myself, my family and my fellow countrymen. How about you? While it is the government primary responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone in the country, each one of us must play a part for such to be most effective.

Tim, I hope you’d reconsider your position, and approach this matter as a human being who would be devastated if other tragedies (which could have been avoided) were to occur and the information to prevent those tragedies were found hidden in that very phone. I hope Tim you come to understand that a great many of us are willing to sacrifice a little bit of our privacy for the safety of us all.

Tim, join the country in the fight against terrorism. It is a great privilege to be in a position to help our government ensure and keep the country safe. Would you give up a little bit of business to protect our lives and those of our children! It is a tradeoff worth making.

Thank you in anticipation for your understanding and cooperation.

Mike Ducheine

 

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