The conflict between the government and Apple over whether Apple should have to devise and provide the government a way to unlock the iphone of the San Bernardino shooter is in the news after Apple's CEO issued a public letter protesting the request.
I can see both sides of this one. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, issued a statement accusing Apple of, in essence, arrogantly overreaching: "Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist's privacy over the security of the American people. ... It's unfortunate that the great company Apple is becoming the company of choice for terrorists, drug dealers, and sexual predators of all sorts."
Apple. on the other hand, makes it sound like it is the U.S. government that is overreaching.
I do have a few thoughts to add.
First, the Apple letter to customers about the issue is carefully crafted to frame the matter as a quarrel between the company and "the FBI" or "the U.S. government." These are nameless, faceless institutions. In the case of the FBI, it's even an institution that probably has some reputation issues regarding invasion of privacy and overreach dating back to J. Edgar Hoover. The Apple letter does not talk about the Justice Department or the attorney general, who oversee the FBI, or about the Obama administration.
Second, and relatedly, Apple's corporate culture is pretty left wing. Al Gore is a longtime member of the company's board of directors. Open Secrets has a useful chart of political giving by the company's employees; in the 2012 election cycle, Apple-affiliated individuals gave $308,081 to the Obama campaign and $28,910 to Mitt Romney's campaign. It's interesting how big government becomes a concern all of a sudden only once it starts to affect a company directly. I bet few Apple employees have a problem with using the San Bernardino shooting to restrict Second Amendment gun rights. But when the government starts messing with iPhone software, that's a liberty concern, even though there is no comparable explicit constitutional protection.
Third, this particular case has both strengths and weaknesses for the government. It's strong because it was a high profile massacre that prompted widespread outrage. But it's weaker because the perpetrator has already been identified, and because there doesn't seem to be any "ticking time bomb" type situation involving additional attacks on the way.
Fourth, there's a libertarian streak in Silicon Valley that, for better or worse, has the potential to be nursed into something of statewide or even national political or ideological significance.