The Federal Bureau of Investigation is ordering Apple to break into the cell phone of the San Bernandino shooters to get what could be vital information. The information that is now locked away inside that iPhone could reveal important data that would help authorities get a clearer understanding of the movements and contacts of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik. The couple killed 14 people and injured 22 others in December.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that hacking into that phone would set a dangerous precedent involving issues of privacy rights.

The situation has drawn battle lines between those who say that citizens privacy rights are paramount against those who say that hacking one cell phone in the battle against terror is not the first step on a slippery slope of widespread and random hacking of phones of American citizens.

If pressed, most people would say that the number one job of the U.S. government is to protect Americans.  For a government that has gathered billions of phone messages after Sept. 11 as well as surveil communications from around the globe, hacking into the phone of a terrorist would seem to be child’s play.

In a world in danger from lone wolf terrorists and terrorist organizations, any weapon that allows us to get in front of any terrorist threat—foreign or domestic—should be used.

There should be no open season on the feds getting their hands on information from any phone or computer. Harvesting the information from Farook’s iPhone should be done with the full participation of Apple, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the ACLU.

There should be an iron-clad agreement that this would be a one-and-done operation. The American people want to be safe but they also want their privacy rights secure.

The phone’s information should be gathered but it should not be an invitation for the government to use as a first step to tap into anyone’s phone at any time.

Given a choice between privacy in a time of social media and stopping another terrorist attack most people would rather be safe.

  —LAZ