Apple vs the FBI.
Tim Cook’s letter about the FBI’s request for help cracking the password on a killer’s iPhone is important reading. Cook claims that Apple does not have a version of iOS that would allow the FBI to circumvent security on one of the San Bernadino killers’ iPhones. The FBI has demanded that Apple engineers create one.
The FBI has explicitly asked for help with this one device, one time. But that’s not what Cook’s letter is about. (Just between the two of us, I’d like for the FBI to know what’s on this murderous piece of shit’s phone too.) And while there’s always the chance that the software backdoor in question could get out, rendering every iOS device in the world totally insecure, that’s a secondary concern here too — I imagine Apple’s engineers could do a reasonable job securing this one phone. This is a much bigger deal than that. Bigger, even, than the FBI’s specific request for the ability to input passwords wirelessly. (Just think about what a privacy apocalypse that could trigger.)
If Apple agrees to the FBI’s demand, then every iOS device is fair game — and future demands of other tech companies for such extraordinary violation of user privacy will be more likely, and more likely to be followed.
We already know that Google happily helps the NSA with their online equivalents of warrantless wiretapping. We already know that some companies build such backdoors for the government to use. But this is something else:
The FBI is asserting that it has a right to backdoors which do not yet exist.
This should repulse you. It should repulse Barack Obama, to be frank.
Apple’s respect for user privacy — the company’s willingness to hide user data even from Apple itself — is a big part of why I favour their products and services. They are absolutely right to pick this hill to die on, especially when the phone in question belonged to such unsympathetic filth…which is, by the way, a deliberate political calculation by the FBI; bet on it. This is about precedent.
We should reward companies and individuals who do the right thing when frighteningly powerful groups like the FBI put their thumbs on the scales.
Write to your representatives in Congress to push back on the horseshit coming from Senators Cotton and Feinstein, and demand that your presidential candidate of choice speak out against this overreach by law enforcement.