GENEVA — The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a Friday Statement that U.S. authorities should take into account that the legal process involving Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could present negative consequences for “the human rights of people all over the world”.

Mr. Zeid added that while requesting access to the iPhone that belongs to the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI could be unlocking a “Pandora’s Box”, that could potentially put at risk the humans rights of “many millions of people” and data such as physical and financial information.

Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

“I recognize this case is far from reaching a conclusion in the US courts, and urge all concerned to look not just at the merits of the case itself but also at its potential wider impact,” he said in a statement published Friday by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

He remarked that the FBI deserves everyone’s collaboration in the investigation into the San Bernardino attacks that took place on December 2, last year, which left 14 people dead and 22 seriously injured. That being said the “abominable crime” should not escape the law, he said.

However, the case is not about Apple and its followers trying to support criminals and terrorist, he said, explaining that the case is about “safeguarding” everyone from criminals and repression.

According to the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, there are other alternatives to investigate if the San Bernardino killers had accomplices, rather than “forcing” the iPhone maker to develop a software to disrupt the security features of their devices.

Zaid: A case about people’s security, not about Apple supporting criminals

Zaid added that if Apple proceeds to create such a software, it would have “tremendous” consequences for individuals living in a digital world that are currently creating a fusion with the real world. The UN Human Rights Chief was sharp with his declarations, stressing that a successful case against Apple in the United States would be understood as the last hope of users, of thinking that tech companies can safeguard their privacy.

Apple’s iPhone impact in the U.S. is huge, according to CIRP investigations there were 94 million iPhones in use in the country by the end of March 2015 when the iPhone 6s had not been presented yet.

Encryption tools are massively used around the world by civil society, human right defenders, journalists and politics facing persecution. As a result, Encryption and anonymity are necessary for maintaining freedom of expression and opinion, Zaid explained.

“It is neither fanciful nor an exaggeration to say that, without encryption tools, lives may be endangered,” said the UN Human Rights Chief.

Source: United Nations Press Release