Building a Backdoor to the iPhone: An Ethical Dilemma
(8 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In February 2016, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, challenged a U.S. Federal Court order for Apple to assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in a case involving suspected international terrorism. The government wanted Apple to provide the FBI with access to encrypted data on an Apple product, the iPhone. Cook's refusal to acquiesce to the government's demands drew strong public debate, pitting the proponents of national security against those in favour of customers’ digital privacy and security. The case invoked an ethical dilemma faced by management in issues involving right-versus-right decisions. Which right should Cook choose? What are the ethical dilemmas involved in making this decision? How should Cook resolve the dilemma?
This case can be taught in a 90-minute session of a business ethics course in a postgraduate or executive MBA program. It may also be used in an information management course to teach a module on ethics in information management, focusing on the moral and ethical dimensions of information handling and use, including gatekeeping. The case will help students to:
- Distinguish between various kinds of executive management decisions: right-versus-wrong compared to right-versus-right.
- Recognize and understand the moral dilemmas facing management involving right-versus-right decisions or “the-dirty hands problem.”
- Understand the frameworks used in developing practical approaches to resolving these dilemmas.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Large, 2016
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