As the FBI continues to make its case to legally compel Apple to unlocked the iPhone once owned by one the perpetrators of the San Bernardino massacre, the United Nation's high commissioner for human rights has urged the U.S. to avoid crossing a "key red line" that could jeopardize the quality of life of millions of people around the world.
Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, the UN's Human Rights High Commissioner, asserts that there are others ways for the FBI to determine whether or not a third party played a role in launching the terror attack at an office party in San Bernardino, California last December.
Breaking the iPhone's encryption, by having Apple build a software backdoor, could unlock a "Pandora's Box," states Al-Hussein.
"This is not just about one case and one IT company in one country," says Al-Hussein. "It will have tremendous ramifications for the future of individuals' security in a digital world which is increasingly inextricably meshed with the actual world we live in."
Al-Hussein reasons that the software backdoor not only sets a precedence for oppressive regimes around the world, but it also offers them the means for prying into the personal information of their citizens. It could be "a gift to authoritarian regimes" and hackers alike, adds Al-Hussein.
Encryption protects activists, political dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists and whistle blowers around the globe from persecution, according to the high commissioner.
"There is, unfortunately, no shortage of security forces around the world who will take advantage of the ability to break into people's phones if they can," he says. "And there is no shortage of criminals intent on committing economic crimes by accessing other people's data."
The UN is the latest organization to support Apple stance, to some degree, in the debate over encryption and consumer protections. For various reasons, Silicon Valley has been submitted "friends of the court" briefs in a show of support for Apple.
On March 1, the two sides held another bout in court during a hearing dubbed "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy." The hearing, in its 5 and a half hour-long entirety, can be viewed in the video below: