Digital privacy and faithful discipleship

March 15th, 2016

Last month a federal judge ordered Apple, Inc. to help the FBI retrieve encrypted data from an iPhone used by one of the shooters responsible for the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The government argues it needs the information — photos, contacts, messages and more — for national security reasons. “Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists,” wrote FBI Director James Comey. “Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.”

As of this writing, Apple is refusing to comply. While the company has extracted data from iPhones for the government in the past, it hasn’t unlocked the devices, and doesn’t want to start now. Apple CEO Tim Cook says the FBI wants a version of Apple’s operating system that opens a “backdoor” — “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.” Apple regards that potential as an unacceptable threat to individual privacy, which Cook calls, “a fundamental human right.”

Shaping society as Jesus’ followers

Even if the teens you serve aren’t paying attention to the Apple/FBI controversy, they’re probably already aware of and dealing with concerns about digital privacy. According to Pew Research findings, for instance, “few [US] teens embrace a fully public approach to social media,” for example, and 40 percent of them are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that their information “might be accessed by third parties … without their knowledge.”

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin says the FBI-Apple case offers a chance for “conversation [about] what’s important to us as a society.” It also offers an opportunity for you and your teenagers to talk about how faith in Jesus informs our attitudes about our personal rights and social responsibilities. Today’s teens are helping shape both today’s and tomorrow’s society. When the church helps them think through issues like those emerging from the Apple and FBI fight, it helps teens shape society in godly ways.

Question of the day: What does the government have the right to demand?
Focal Scriptures: 1 Peter 2:13-17; Psalm 72:1-14; Matthew 22:15-22; Philippians 4:8-9

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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