Mr. Wilkinson has an excellent article about the Apple debacle which is coming up in the future, but it makes sense to clarify the technical issues first. Vox has an article which describes the technical challenges in this issue:
But the fact that we don’t know how to make an encryption algorithm that can be compromised only by law enforcement doesn’t imply that we don’t know how to make a technology product that can be unlocked only by law enforcement.
The fight over the iPhone’s encryption is not really a fight about encryption. Backdooring encryption is a bad idea because if the bad guys find the backdoor, there is no way to protect any of the encrypted traffic. But we have a workaround: We The People can command Apple to put a backdoor into the operating system that allows us to control specific phones.
That is what this fight is about. Can a government compel a private company to modify its products so that at government request, specific units can be compromised?
Legally, the answer is yes, of course. If the people vote for such a thing, it can be done. If there are civil rights or human rights objections, the answer will always be that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, a concept I find problematic because it assumes the equality of people as if we could be weighed by the pound and our value thereby determined.
In realistic thinking of course the answer is no. The real issue here is far from the question of iPhones or governments. If we drill down to the core of this fight, it is thus: government cannot substitute for culture.
You will never have enough cops, judges, lawyers and spies to control a population. You would need not just a true panopticon, where every act was visible, but an observed panopticon where a wise and alert cop watched every act all the time. Only then do you have safety; but even then, there are many points of failure.
Those of us who want a Restoration point out that you either have a society of good people or the bad people win. There are no grey areas and no middle ground. People must police themselves. When your culture rewards good behavior and is intolerant of bad, terrorists and other crazies can have no place in your society. This works far better than police enforcement and spying on people through their phones.