Walking the "Encryption Tightrope": Getting to the Core of Apple's Privacy and Security Battle with the FBI

Submited by: Brooke Lichtman, Jaymie Polet, Bria Smith, Rubai Soni

School: DePaul University

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Matt Ragas

Following the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting, the FBI asked Apple to provide access to the perpetrator's iPhone, forcing Apple to stand its ground on protecting consumer privacy. Agreeing to provide access would jeopardize its consumers' privacy by creating a "backdoor" into the iPhone which Apple deemed unacceptable. Apple's decision was met with praise and criticism by the public and other technology companies. Finally, the FBI used a third party to hack the iPhone. Although consumer privacy was eventually compromised, Apple's response set a precedent and started an important dialogue across the business world about customer privacy and security.

Note: Teaching notes will be made available to faculty upon request.

2017 Case Study Competition

Page, in alliance with the Institute for Public Relations, conducts an annual competition for the writing of original case studies by students enrolled in a school of business, communication or journalism and who are pursuing a degree that is focused on corporate communications and the practice of public relations. The objectives of the competition are to introduce practical applications of the core principles that define corporate communication as a critical function of management to educators, teachers and students, and encourage research that contributes to the profession's body of knowledge and provide practical suggestions for improving the corporate communications function. Student authors of winning entries and their faculty advisors are awarded cash prizes and recognized by the nation's leading corporate communications executives.

For questions, please email casestudies@page.org.


The grand prize winner receives the Jack Koten Case Study Award, named in honor of John A. "Jack" Koten, one of the founding members of the Arthur W. Page Society and its first president. The winning students are invited to the annual Awards Ceremony held each year at the Page Society's Spring Seminar in New York.