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Computer Privacy

Nic Cimino
5/10/16
COSC 418 Section 450
Spring 2016

Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

Introduction
Computer privacy is one of the major ethical concerns in todays world. With the entire
world becoming more and more revolved around technology and computers, more and more
ethical issues are popping up involving these technologies and computers. Computer privacy is
an issue no matter where you are and what computerized device you choose to use. It could
consist of the privacy of your home computer, work computer, computers in a school
environment, or even your very own cellular device. Whether you like it or not, no matter where
you are and what computer you are using, your privacy on that computer might be at risk.
Smartphones are extremely popular in the United States and other parts of the world, but
how secure is your data on that smartphone. Your privacy on your smartphone may be a lot less
secure than you think. Did you know that if you use your fingerprint to open your smartphone
instead of a passcode you may be required to incriminate yourself by providing all information
on your cellphone using your own fingerprint? The Circuit Court of Virginia in 2014 declared
that your fingerprints and using those fingerprints to unlock your own phone are not protect by
the Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination)1. This ruling was than reinforced and upheld by a
federal court in 2016. Although they may make you use your own fingerprint to self-incriminate
yourself by unlocking your phone, it is not required that you enter a passcode for the court if that
is the way of unlocking your phone. 2 Another issue involving your cell phone privacy is location
tracking. In Maryland, state and county police officers are using a cell phone interceptor program
to locate people using their cell phones. According to an article by Courtney Mabeus on the
Maryland Reporter, the cell phone simulator program allows the department to locate and
apprehend violent offenders, track persons or interest, monitor cords when intelligence suggest

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Hildenbrand
Hildenbrand

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COSC 418.450

threats; and intercept signals that could activate devices. 3 Although that may sound like it is
keeping the state of Maryland safer, who knows who they are tracking and what they may be
using that data for? This means that they could track anyone that they want including yourself.
Do you really want the police to track your every move even if you are not doing anything
wrong? Most likely you would not and you want your privacy.
Work and computer privacy is a questionable arrangement in the work field. When
youre at your place of work is it okay for your employer to monitor your every move on the
computer? In an article in Nevada Business, Ann Morgan states Some employers are turning to
software that enables employers to record all employee activity on company computers or use
the companys internet4 Most employers will monitor your work computer at all times
whether you like it or not. Its about liability because youre the employee of their company and
anything you do using their computer can end up hurting them. Some will say it is still an
evasion of privacy even if you are not doing anything wrong. Ann Morgan gives a great example
stating that if youre being monitored at all times and you check your bank account or fill out a
confidential employee survey youre still being recorded.5 Now who has access to your bank
account? Now is that confidential survey you took for your employer still confidential? No one
wants to be watched at all times even if you are doing everything correctly.

Mabeus
Morgan
5
Morgan
4

Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

STEP I
Title of Article/Issue:
With Finality, F.B.I. Opts Not to Share iPhone-Unlocking Method
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/28/technology/with-finality-fbi-opts-not-to-share-iphoneunlocking-method.html

A.

List the relevant facts. State facts in complete sentences. (List more than five
facts.) At the end of your list, cite reference from your source(s).

1.

The FBI created a way to unlock Apple iPhones without using a passcode.

2.

The FBI will not give that solution to Apple.

3.

An outside group was paid $1.3 million to create this solution.

4.

The issue was sent to a special White House panel to decide on.

5.

The FBI has the device to unlock the phones but not the blueprint of how it
is done.

6.

The government claims that it does not have enough details to prove any
information to review the process.

7.

The white house has a little known system called the Vulnerabilities Equities
Process that is reviewing the vulnerability of this case.

8.

B.
1.

What ethics/values are in question from the above facts? (List more than three
facts.)
Should Apple trust the FBI with this project?

2.

Is the privacy of iPhone users still safe?

3.

Why is it okay/not okay for the FBI to pay someone to hack a phone?

4.

Who has access to this technical solution if the FBI doesnt?

5.

If Apple is given the solution will it solve the fact that it has already been
made?

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C.

COSC 418.450

List the stakeholders involved. List the individuals/groups who are/may be


affected by this issue and how. Be specific.

Who are affected/Who may affected?

How are they affected by the


dilemma/OR could be affected?

Apple

There has been a technical solution


designed for unlocking their phones
without the use of passcode

FBI

They are the ones who paid an outside


group to create a solution to unlock the
terrorists phone without a passcode.

Other tech companies

If they figured out a way to unlock


apples phone without the use of a
passcode than there is probably someone
who could unlock other technology
without the use of a passcode

Apple stockholders

Apple being in the news and the


possibility of there being a way to get
into any iPhone could raise or drop the
stock of apple.

General Public

People are losing their privacy because


of the chance of someone having a
technical solution to get into an iPhone
and the possibility of other technical
solutions to come about for other
technical devices.

Hackers

This gives hackers motivation to want to


figure out a way to hack into someones
phone or other technical devices because
someone has already done it.

Secret outside group

They were paid money to create a


technical solution to unlock iPhones and
could put others in danger if there
solution gets out to the public.

Government

The government may have to make a


decision whether or the FBI has to turn
over the solution created to Apple or not.

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COSC 418.450

Other country governments

A similar situation to what is going on in


the United States could possibly happen
in their country so they must keep an eye
on what comes about this situation.

Other tech companies stockholders

If other technologies become effected by


this technological solution than other
tech companies can become effected and
will either raise or drop the stock price.

STEP II

A.

Write several statements or questions that are ethical dilemmas from this
situation.

1.

Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

2.

Is the FBI going behind Apples back to unlock one of their phones okay?

3.

Should the FBI outsource projects like this?

4.

Is the technology world in danger if this technical solution is out there now?

5.

Should the government allow the FBI to without this solution?

6.

Should the outside group be identified?

7.
8.

Nic Cimino

B.

COSC 418.450

What is the ethical dilemma to be resolved NOW? State it using the form:
Should someone do or not do something? Keep this statement simple. For
example: Should people buy pirated software? NOT Should people buy pirated
software even though they cannot afford the price of proprietary software?
YOUR MAJOR ETHICAL DILEMMA QUESTION IS:

Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

STEP III
UTILITARIAN THEORY- Good for the group, least harm for the group

Major ethical dilemma question


Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

If you
answered the
ethical
dilemma

Harmed-State
how each
stakeholder is
harmed.

Yes

FBI They are


harmed because
they are forced
to give up the
secret
technological
solution they
paid someone to
develop and
could possibly
been given
negative
consequences

Not HarmedState how each


stakeholder is
not harmed.

Benefited-State
how each
stakeholder is
benefited.
Apple The benefit
because they receive
information on how
their phone was
broken into and can
fix the problem
General Public
The technology
world is now safer
because of the fact
that Apple can now
correct the security
problem that had
occurred

Secret outside
group The

Other tech
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Not BenefitedState how each


stakeholder is
not benefited.

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COSC 418.450

companies Other
tech companies will
not have to worry
about people
developing
technological
devices to hack into
their locked
phones/technological
devices because it
will not be allowed

secret outside
group will have
to give up their
creation and
possibly risk
being exposed
for creating
something that
should have
never been
created.

Apple stockholders
Apple stock
holders will benefit
because the stock
price will go up
because Apples
phone are now more
secure and they were
in the news and that
usually drives up
stock prices
Other tech
company
stockholders
Other tech company
stockholders stock
price is no longer at
risk to fall because
Apple was given the
solution to unlocking
their phones and
could fix the
problem so other
tech companies
could do the same
thing if someone
figures out a solution
to their phones.
Other governments
Other government
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COSC 418.450

wills have a standard


on what should be
allowed and not
allowed in the
technological world

No

Apple Apple
is harmed
because their
devices are now
a privacy risk
due to the fact
that they cannot
fix the security
hole that the FBI
found

FBI The FBI


would not be forced
to give up their way
of getting into Apple
phones and would
not suffer from any
possible
consequences for
breaking into an
Apple phone without
their permission.

General Public
The general
public is left
wondering how
secure their
phone really is
and if their
privacy will be
taking away on
their phone at
some point.

Hackers Hackers
will possibly get
jobs from the FBI to
hack into other
phones or
technological
devices. This could
also give them
motive to want to
prove their great to
others and create a
similar technological
solution

Other tech
companies
Other tech
companies will
have to worry
about someone
developing a
solution to hack
into their
technological
device and not
knowing how
they did it.

Secret outside
group They are
not exposed and go
unknown as the
secret group who
unlocked an iPhone
for the FBI.
Other governments
They again benefit
learning from the
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COSC 418.450

mistakes/correct
ruling of the United
States.

Apple
stockholders
Apples stock
price will most
likely go down
because there is
a possibility that
some people
may not buy
Apple products
due to lack of
security
Other tech
company
stockholders
If someone
develops a
solution to
unlock their
company
technological
device than the
stock price will
be driven down
due to possibly
lack of sales
because of
security
Government
The government
will have to look
at this case and
analyze it and
make a decision
based on what
they believe is
correct causing
more work for
them.

Interpretation of the above analysis:


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Nic Cimino

1.

COSC 418.450

Which alternative results in the least harm in answering the dilemma yes or no?
Why? (There is no right or wrong choice. Interpret the outcome of the
analysis.) For example: The answer to the question that would result in the least
harm would be. Because answering

The answer to the question that would result in the least harm would be YES because answering
YES would account for the least amount of harm.

2.

Which alternative results in the maximum benefit in answering the dilemma yes
or no? (There is no right or wrong choice. Interpret the outcome of the
analysis.) For example: The answer to the question that would result in the
maximum benefit would be. Because answering

The answer to the question that would result in the maximum benefit would be YES because
answering YES would account for the maximum amount of benefit.

Conclusion of analysis: (The results from #1 and #2.)

3.

Therefore, based on the above analysis, the utilitarians position on this dilemma
would be..YES because answering YES would cause the least amount of harm and
benefit the most amount of stockholders.

STEP III
DEONTOLOGY THEORY-Rights Violated/Duties Neglected

Major ethical dilemma question

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Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

If you answered the


ethical dilemma

Rights Violated or
Abridged-State how each
stakeholders rights were
violated.

Duties or Responsibilities
Neglected/Not Met-State
how this/these
stakeholder(s) violated the
other stakeholder(s)
rights.

N/A

N/A

Apple Apples right to


know is being violated
because there is a
technological solution out
there to hack into their
phone and they do not know
that certain solution.

FBI the FBI is neglecting


Apples right to know by not
sharing the technological
solution they discovered
with Apple

Yes

No

General public their right


to privacy is being violated
because of the solution that
is not being fixed by Apple
due to Apple not knowing
the solution.

FBI the FBI is neglecting


their duty to give the
general public privacy
because they are
withholding a solution to
enter iPhones that could
jeopardized the privacy of
the general public.

Interpretation of the above analysis:

In deontology analysis, do the following in the above chart:

1. Identify which stakeholders rights have been or may be violated/abridged.


2. Identify what duties have been or may be neglected.
3. Remember: When listing a right, show its corresponding duty and vice versa.

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Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

Final outcome of interpretation: How would you interpret the outcome of the deontologists
position on your dilemma?

My results for the deontologist were that the deontologist would say YES to this dilemma. I
came to this conclusion because if you answer yes no ones rights are being violated and no one
is neglecting their duty/responsibility. By answering no Apples right to know is violated and the
FBI is neglecting their duty by not telling Apple how they unlocked the iPhone. Answering no
would also cause the general publics right to privacy to be violated and the FBI would be
neglecting this duty by allowing the solution to go unsolved so that people can unlock other
iPhones without a passcode leading to invaded privacy.

STEP III
KANTS CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE Respect and Consistency

The principle of consistency: What if everyone acted this way?


The principle of respect: Are people treated as ends rather than means?

Major ethical dilemma question


Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

If you
answered the
ethical
dilemma

Would anyone
be treated with
Disrespect?

Would anyone
be treated
Differently?

N/A

N/A

Apple Apple
would be
treated with
disrespect
because the FBI
went behind

Apple the
FBI is treating
Apple
differently than
other
technological

Yes

No

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Would there
be any Benefit
to anyone?

Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

their back and


developed a
technological
solution to
enter the
iPhone after
Apple said they
would not help
the FBI unlock
the iPhone.

companies
because they
did not go and
develop a
solution to
unlock other
devices, just
Apples iPhone.

Interpretation of the above outcome:

1. If a stakeholder is being treated differently, they are also being treated


disrespectfully
2. If identified stakeholder is a criminal or participating criminal behavior, they
cannot be treated disrespectfully.
Final outcome of above analysis:

Which alternative is preferable? What would be Kants position to your dilemma?


Kant would say that the FBI SHOULD hand over the technological solution to Apple. He
would respond that when you answer no to the question Should the FBI give the technical
solution to the Apple? that you are treating Apple disrespectfully and differently. Apple is
treated disrespectfully because the FBI went behind Apples back after Apple told the FBI
they would not help unlock the iPhone. The FBI then continued to hire an outside source to
unlock the iPhone and develop a solution and now the FBI will not hand over that
technological solution to Apple so they are treating them disrespectfully. They are also
treating them differently because they only made a solution for Apples iPhone and no other
devices for other technological companies.

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COSC 418.450

STEP III
SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY- Negative and Positive Rights

Major ethical dilemma question


Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

If you answered
the ethical
dilemma

Negative Rights
Identify each
stakeholders
negative rights
(If applicable)

Identify each
stakeholder
who is or
maybe
responsible to
meet each
negative right

Describe each
negative right
as per each
stakeholder

Identify each
stakeholder who
is or may
responsible to
meet each
positive right

Describe
each
negative
right as per
each
stakeholder

Yes
N/A

Positive
Rights
Identify
each
stakeholder
s positive
rights (If
applicable)

General
public
The general
public has
the right to
privacy.

N/A

Apple
Apple has
the right to
know
everything
about their
own
product.

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Government
The government
has the
responsibility to
protect the
general publics
right to privacy.
FBI FBI has
the responsibility
to tell Apple
something about
their product if
they ask for it and
they do not have
it.

Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

No

General
public
The general
public has
the right to
privacy.
Apple
Apple has
the right to
know
everything
about their
own
product.

Government
The government
has the
responsibility to
protect the
general publics
right to privacy.
FBI FBI has
the responsibility
to tell Apple
something about
their product if
they ask for it and
they do not have
it.

Interpretation of above analysis:


1. Does the ethical question results in negative rights being identified? Yes or No?
How?
No, no negative rights are being identified because no right that has to do strictly with
yourself is being involved in this case.
2. Does the ethical question results in positive rights being identified? Yes or No?
How?
Yes, because with this question the general public has the right to privacy and the
government has the responsibility to protect the general publics right to privacy. Apples
right to know is also involved in this question. The FBI has the responsibility to tell
Apple about their product if Apple insisted what they did was not to be done.
Final outcome of analysis:
Is the social contract theory applicable to your ethical question? How? Why?
I believe the social contract theory is applicable to my ethical question. It is applicable because
whether you say yes or no to the positive rights of Apple and the general public are effected.
Apple has the right to know everything about their product and the general public has the right to
privacy. The FBI and government have the responsibility to grant those rights of Apple and the
general public.

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Nic Cimino

COSC 418.450

STEP III
VIRTUE ETHICS THEORY- Morality through Character
Major ethical dilemma question
Should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?

If you
answered the
ethical
dilemma

Would any
stakeholder be
acting in
virtue? Who?
How?

Would any
stakeholder
not be acting
in virtue?
Who? How?

Yes
FBI they
would acting
respectful by
giving Apple
the solution to
how they
opened an
Apple phone
and Apple
could fix the
problem so that
it cannot
happen again
and privacy is
maintained.

N/A

N/A

FBI they
would be acting
unvirtuous by
being
untrustworthy
by going
behind Apples
back to find a
solution to
enter and
iPhone and not

No

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COSC 418.450

giving it to
Apple to fix
afterwards.

Interpretation of above analysis:


1. Does answering the ethical question yes results in a virtuous action by a
stakeholder? If that is the case, list the stakeholder and state how their actions are
virtuous.
2. Does answering the ethical question no results in a virtuous action by a
stakeholder? If that is the case, list the stakeholder and state how their actions are
virtuous.

Final outcome of analysis:

3. Explain the results (yes or no) to the ethical dilemma question that identifies
stakeholders acting virtuous in this issue/situation.
The result of this ethical dilemma for the virtue ethics theory would be YES. I believe the
answer would be yes because when you answer the question with a yes the FBI is acting
in virtue and no one is acting unvirtuous. The FBI is acting in virtue by being respectful
of Apple and allowing them to fix the problem with their security by obtaining the
technological solution. If you answer the question with a no the FBI is acting unvirtuous
by being disrespectful to Apple and going behind their back and hiring someone to
unlock an iPhone without a passcode and not allowing Apple to fix their security
problem.

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COSC 418.450

STEP IV
A. Based on the analysis in Step III, choose which theory best applies to this situation. Add
any arguments justifying your choice of these ethical principles to support your decision.

Consequentialism (Utilitarian) Theory


Deontology Theory
Kants Categorical Imperative Principle
Social Contract Theory
Virtue Ethics Theory
(Name the theory here):
Deontology Theory

B. Explain your choice above: THIS AREA SHOULD BE 4 OR MORE SENTENCES.


I believe the deontology theory best applies to the situation presented in this case. I
believe this because majority of this case is about the privacy of others and being afraid their
privacy is going to be violated. The FBI is neglecting the privacy right of the general public by
not allowing Apple access to the technical solution. If Apple was allowed access to the technical
solution than Apple could strengthen their security which would also be strengthening the
privacy of the general publics cell phone data. This case has everything to do with the right of
privacy and the deontology theory is about rights and who is neglecting them.

C. Your decision: What would you do? Why? List the specific steps needed to implement
your defensible ethical decision. THIS AREA SHOULD BE 2 OR MORE PARAGRAPHS.
I would answer the question should the FBI give the technical solution to the Apple?
with a Yes. I would do so because all of the ethical theories when completed answered the
question at hand with a yes. This would benefit the most amount of people by allowing Apple to
fix a security problem and enhance the privacy of the general public. By enhancing the privacy
of the general public you are also protecting their right to privacy and acting in virtue.
There are a few easy steps to implementing my defensible ethical decision. To implement
this I would simply tell the FBI that they must hand over the technical decision to Apple and
explain to them that it would result in them acting virtuously, benefit the most amount of people,
do the least amount of harm, and would result in them not violating anyones rights. They would
they hand over the solution and then Apple would be able to enhance its security and the general
publics right to privacy would be enhanced.
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COSC 418.450

D. What longer-term changes (i.e., political, legal, technical, societal, organizational) would
help prevent your defined dilemma in the future? THIS AREA SHOULD BE 2 OR MORE
PARAGRAPHS.
Long term changes in legality, technology, society and some organizations would all
prevent this dilemma in the future. The first change that would allow for this dilemma to be
avoided would be legal action taken and enforced. If a law was created that either stated it was
illegal/legal to create a technical solution to unlocking phones or other devices unless you are the
manufacture of that product than this dilemma would no longer be in question.
The next change would be technical. If there was a way to never allow anyone to access a
phone without it being them personally than that would allow for this dilemma to be prevented.
Although this sounds impossible the way technology is growing it may be possible. This
technology would allow for only the user of the specific device to access anything on that device.
Security would have to make drastic jumps for this to happen and it would be a significantly long
term project.
Societal changes could prevent this from happening. This change is in my eyes
impossible, but you never know what may happen. This change would require everyone to never
want to enter another device and for all crime to no longer exist. This would delete this dilemma
all together because no one would have committed a crime for the FBI to hack into their phone
and there would be no need to look at the phone because they do not want to see it or want the
information inside of it.
The last change would be organizational. If Apple created better passcodes and somehow
attained the technical solution by themselves than this dilemma would not exist in the future.
This would make it impossible for anyone to create a technical solution to come about and make
the current one irrelevant. A FBI organizational change would also make this situation irrelevant
if the change caused the FBI to give up the solution to Apple. All of these changes would prevent
this dilemma in the future.

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COSC 418.450

Conclusion
In conclusion, computer privacy is a growing issue in the world. The more and
more people use technological devices the more this computer privacy issue will come about.
Whether those issues are cellphone, work, school, etc. related people will always want their
privacy and there will always be someone who wants to invade that privacy. That person may be
a hacker or just a boss that wants to know if youre efficiently working on work instead of
checking your favorite social media or chatting with friends online.
The big issue in the news now is the issue that the FBI paid an outside source to unlock
an iPhone of a terrorist without the help or consent of Apple.6 This means that now peoples
privacy may be at risk. If there is a solution to opening iPhones without a passcode, who has that
solution? People do not want just anyone to have the power of opening iPhones. If that solution
gets into the hands of a hacker or someone worse, then the privacy of many may no longer exist
when it comes to their cellphone. Should the FBI be required to give the solution to Apple?
I believe that the FBI should give the solution to Apple so that Apple can take the correct
steps towards eliminating this solution. Eliminating this solution and fixing the security problem
will result in the most amount of people being benefited and cause the least amount of harm. It is
the general publics right to have their privacy and if the FBI hold onto the solution they are
violating the right of the public to privacy. By giving the solution over to Apple the FBI is acting
respectfully and acting in virtue. In the end, privacy may not ever be completely obtained but the
FBI handing over this solution to Apple would be a step in the right direction.

References
6

Lichtblau

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COSC 418.450

Hildenbrand, Jerry. "Your privacy, your fingerprints and the fifth amendment." Android Central
9 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.androidcentral.com/your-privacy-yourfingerprints-and-fifth-amendment>.
Lichtblau, Eric, and Katie Benner. "With Finality, F.B.I. Opts Not to Share iPhone-Unlocking
Method." The New York Times 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/28/technology/with-finality-fbi-opts-not-to-shareiphone-unlocking-method.html>.
Mabeus, Courtney. "Tracking Your Phone: Legal questions result in plea deals." Maryland
Reporter 10 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://marylandreporter.com/2016/05/10/trackingyour-phone-legal-questions-result-in-plea-deals/>.
Morgan, Ann. "Monitoring Employees Computer Use in the Age of Encryption." Nevada
Business 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.
<http://www.nevadabusiness.com/2015/01/monitoring-employees-computer-use-ageencryption/>.

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