Why does this Matter? The main issue at stake as I see it is not a hack of an iPhone. That can be done, has been done, and will be done in the future. It seems that the FBI is trying to force Apple to be less secure – one of the major selling points of the brand. If the FBI wins, here is how it will affect you:
From that point forward how could you trust that ANY technology created would not have hardcoded, Government-mandated backdoors? This could then open your business, your clients, and your finances, and personal lives to inspection from the Government, or worse?
It’s a question of privacy vs security – how much are we willing to give up?
And even safety aside, does this create opportunities for civil litigation – is this an opening to all parts of the legal system? In other words, can a plaintiff gain access to the defendant’s information via the court to help their case?
This is an all or nothing game. Encryption is MATH, and once you do something it’s done. This means there is no way to “sort of” do it. So there is really no way to “strike a balance” – you either break it or you don’t. Apple currently does not have a way to do this, but they COULD make one.
Since they are a multi-national company what stance do they take with other Governments that are perhaps less than trustworthy, or have spotty human-rights records?
However, the FBI has the capability to circumvent this themselves – there are articles all over the web that detail how this could be done. The FBI is after more than just one phone, they are after a legal precedent to be able to force companies to adhere to what they want.
When it comes to technology that you use every day, cases like this might affect you more than you realize. Always look beneath the hype.
A shortlist of Applicable Laws in Question:
- All Writs Act – 1789 – This Act was first made law in 1789 and is general in its wording to allow Writs to be issued by Courts and Jurisdictions. “…… necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” (Writ: a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction. This can be a subpoena, a warrant, or any other of various orders commanding that “something” is done by “someone”.)
- 1994 CALEA – Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. – President Clinton – This law required telecom companies to modify their networks and equipment to allow for monitoring and “wiretapping” by law enforcement agencies.
- Similar UK Law: RIPA – UK – Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Privacy advocates lost that fight: the bill passed in 2000. As a consequence, this enabled the government to imprison people who refused to reveal their cryptographic keys for investigation.
Who really cares about surveillance?
The first line of defense for surveillance advocates is to point out just how few people seem to care about privacy. Why does it matter that the government is harvesting so much of our data through backdoors when so many of us willingly hand over our information? For example, uploading to Facebook and Google and buying through Amazon. When was the last time you DIDN’T click the “accept cookies” button? All of these companies are selling your information to the highest bidder.
Why is it so hard to convince people to care about privacy?
Painting the pro-privacy side as tinfoil-hatted throwbacks in the post-privacy era is a cheap and effective tactic. It made the pro-surveillance argument into a *pro-progress* one: “Society has moved on. Our data can do more good in big, aggregated piles than it can in atomized fragments on your device and mine. The private data we exhaust when we move through the digital world is a precious resource, not pollution.”
- 2013 Article from the Consumerist
- Aboutthedata.com – to find out what info people have on you.
- Facebook Data that we give away for free
- “National Security should supersede Privacy concerns on major issues”: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/29/apple-vs-fbi-buffett-says-privacy-has-its-limits.html
- Large corporations are frequently asked by the Government to help with cases in special circumstances. Most will do it. From the Huffington Post: [snip] ..In response, the defense argues that the All Writs Act does not give the court the right to “conscript and commandeer” Apple into defeating its own encryption, thus making its customers’ “most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identify thieves, hostile foreign agents, and unwarranted government surveillance.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/admiral-jim-stavridis-ret/apple-fbi-privacy-security_b_9404314.html
- UN Human Rights Chief Warns of Worldwide Privacy Implications: http://www.pcworld.com/article/3040805/security/un-human-rights-chief-warns-of-worldwide-privacy-implications-of-apple-fbi-case.html
- And the ACLU weighs in
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