Legendary investor Warren Buffett says Apple should help the FBI crack the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooting case because “privacy has its limits.”
Speaking to CNBC Monday, Buffett said he’s not siding against Apple — although he kind of is.
“We live in a very, very, very dangerous world,” Buffett said. “If you were in the early days of September 2001 and you were receiving credible information that something was going to happen … I think that in that case security trumps privacy.”
Buffett noted that he would side with Apple if this issue was about the government snooping on everyday citizens (or “fishing around on smaller-type things,” as he put it), but that Apple needs to do the right thing if there’s a chance of terrorist attacks.
“If there’s something major, something that the attorney general or the head of the FBI would be willing to sign, and go to a judge on, and say, ‘We need this information and we need it now.’ I would be willing to trust that official to behave in a proper matter,” Buffett said.
The problem with what Buffett is saying ultimately comes down to the gray area between individual privacy and what can be couched as national security. Last week, FBI Director James Comey defended iPhone hacking in front of a congressional panel — but in the process, acknowledged that a one-off case like this will be “instructive for other courts” in the future.
If you were in any doubt about this, consider that the Department of Justice is already lining up to file court orders for Apple to help extract iPhone data in a further dozen cases around the United States. And none of them relate to terrorism.
It’s a slippery slope…