Access Granted

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Apple v. FBI. The case has dominated the news and will continue to until the case most likely reaches the Supreme Court. I’ve decided to write my final research paper for my Media Management and Policy class on the case. I find it extremely interesting especially regarding what this could mean for the future of advertising and the media industry.

I won’t bore you with the background details because they’re fairly well known by now. Interestingly today the FBI told Apple they might not need their help after all with unlocking the phone. I think we can all stop pretending that the FBI ever needed Apple to unlock the phone. Instead what they’re really after is the precedent to gain access to personal data.

I’m interested in what the case will mean about the future of how companies access personal data. In Apple’s message to the customer CEO Tim Cook wrote about the fear that if the government has access to personal data on a phone what is to stop them from having access to your heath records, financial data, track your location or have access to your phone’s camera or microphone.

While this sounds creepy now so did the idea of putting all your personal information on the Internet 10 years ago. Now my health records are entirely online. Facebook can recognize who I’m with in a picture through facial recognition software and Instagram tells everyone my location. We give out that information everyday in exchange for the service. Yes, it’s possible to give out more or less information, but the majority of people say a lot about themselves on the Internet.

I personally do not think this is entirely a bad thing. In the book Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku predicts that one day your bathroom can detect if you have cancer. Technology and the access to data could be a life saver, which is what the government is saying as well by wanting access to protect citizens from terrorists.

Access to this data would be instrumental for the advertising industry. Every advertisement you see would be specifically geared toward your habits. Companies would know where I go, who I’m with and what products could then improve my life. I’d much rather see a blast of products that pertain to me rather than a slew of ones that don’t.

I really think it’s only a matter of time until personal data is no longer personal. It’s hard to keep secrets in a digital era. But most importantly safety is key. If the government having access to my personal data ensures millions of people’s safety – that’s a privilege I’m willing to give up.

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