H1041: Professional & Management & Skills- Apple and the FBI Case Study- Report Writing Assignment

Internal Code: 4AGB

Report Writing Assignment:

Task:

Select one of the case-studies below. Write a report which expands on the case by describing the ethical issues, if any, raised by the case you have chosen. Do not omit any legal requirements. These are only brief outlines. You should research (and include references on) your chosen case looking in particular, for project management issues on which you can comment from an ethical point of view. You should also explain which, if any, ethical principles might help prevent any recurrence of this sort of event. Your report may cover technical matters where necessary but the marks will be awarded mainly for coverage of ethical issues.

Case 1 – Apple and the FBI

In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed that various state security agencies including the NSA in the US and GCHQ in Britain could access almost all the information held on any smartphone. Perhaps in response to this revelation, Apple developed new encryption technology for iOS 8 and later devices which prevented any outside access to users’ data. Despite legal objections, Apple continues to use encryption methods which can not be read by the security services.

On December 2nd 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. The terrorists had destroyed their personal phones immediately before the attack but one of them had also been issued with an Apple iPhone 5c by his employer which was recovered after the attack. The FBI had reason to believe that some information on this iPhone such as call history, internet history, and location tracing would be of great importance in preventing further acts of terrorism. However, they were unable to hack into this phone because of Apple’s new security features.

On 9th February 2106, the FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to unlock this phone by providing a new one-off iOS operating system which would allow them to use brute force methods to defeat the pin code without erasing all data after 10 attempts – as it can be set by the user to do. The FBI said this would be used once only to crack this particular phone and be destroyed afterwards.In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed that various state security agencies including the NSA in the US and GCHQ in Britain could access almost all the information held on any smartphone. Perhaps in response to this revelation, Apple developed new encryption technology for iOS 8 and later devices which prevented any outside access to users’
data. Despite legal objections, Apple continues to use encryption methods which can not be read by the security services.

On December 2nd 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. The terrorists had destroyed their personal phones immediately before the attack but one of them had also been issued with an Apple iPhone 5c by his employer which was recovered after the attack. The FBI had reason to believe that some information on this iPhone such as call history, internet history, and location tracing would be of great importance in preventing further acts of terrorism. However, they were unable to hack into this phone because of Apple’s new security features.

On 9th February 2106, the FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to unlock this phone by providing a new one-off iOS operating system which would allow them to use brute force methods to defeat the pin code without erasing all data after 10 attempts – as it can be set by the user to do. The FBI said this would be used once only to crack this particular phone and be destroyed afterwards.

Case 2 – The loss of STS-107 Columbia

On January 16th 2003 during the launch of the space shuttle Columbia piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank and struck the left wing. On at least 4 previous launches of the space shuttle similar foam strikes had been observed and it was not considered a serious problem. Engineering and management views of the subsequent space flight differed in a manner highly reminiscent of the loss of STS-51-L Challenger. Engineers made three separate requests for US Department of Defense imaging of the shuttle in orbit to determine if there was any damage. While the images were not guaranteed to show the damage, the technical capability existed for imaging of sufficient resolution to provide meaningful examination. NASA management did not honour the requests and in some cases may have intervened to stop the Department of Defence from assisting. The exact details of hese communications with the military currently remain classified. Risk assessment meetings came to the conclusion that the flight was not in danger. John Harpold, Director of Mission Operations reportedly said: “You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged, it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know.

Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?”

No further attempt was made to investigate the damage to Columbia and the crew was told: “Experts have reviewed the high speed photography and there is no concern for RCC or tile damage. We have seen this same phenomenon on several other flights and there is absolutely no concern for entry”
Re-entry of Columbia began as scheduled early on 1st February 2003. At 0853 when travelling at about Mach 23 in the upper atmosphere, superheated air entered a large hole in the leading edge of the left wing leading to the complete destruction of the spacecraft and the deaths of the crew. The subsequent enquiry: Columbia Accident Investigation Board, was particularly critical of the management culture within the upper echelons of NASA. There was also criticism of the software used by the engineers.

 

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