Tom Clancy could not have written a more drawn out, thrill inspiring tale that could top the conflicts taking place in the United States today. It’s an election year and the stakes are high on both sides of the political aisle with modern technology on the forefront.
A non-politician has taken the lead among the Reds, yet has not shown sufficient popularity to gain a plurality of voters. There’s a wholly unexpected and party-ripping battle brewing on the Blue side. A prominent and conservative Supreme Court justice is dead. Apple has been ordered by a court to unlock a dead terrorist’s iPhone, the first step in a battle which is likely to rage all the way to the Supreme Court, now evenly divided between Reds and Blues.
The supposedly strict constitutionalists represented by Red leaders have told the Blue leader to abdicate his constitutional responsibility and not even bother to nominate a judge to the high court. Yet, a Supreme Court evenly divided on an issue would leave lower court rulings in place, and it’s likely that Apple will fight the court order to open up the iPhone all the way to an evenly divided Supreme Court.
Tom Clancy has nothing on reality, folks. It just doesn’t get any better than this. What does this have to do with Ben Franklin and Apple CEO Tim Cook?
There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.
Second, Ben Franklin:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Franklin’s quote often is taken out of context, yet, the government is asking that citizens give up the very liberty they are obliged to protect.
Tim Cook, in A Message to Our Customers exposed the weakness of the government’s demands and the dangerous precedent that compliance would set for the future.
Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.
The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.
The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.
Apple opposes the government’s request and the case likely will be argued all the way to the Supreme Court, where the court seems evenly balanced between Reds and Blues, which makes each court ruling along the path to the high court ever more intriguing.
We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
But wasn’t Ben Franklin’s missive more about money than security? Probably so, based upon the context of his letter to the Pennsylvania General Assembly a few hundred years ago.
So, what is the drama all about? Power. Money. Rights. All three in a single issue would definitely have piqued the honorable Franklin’s attention. This is not a skirmish. It’s a battle. Wars are made up of battles, but remember, those who win the war also have the privilege of rewriting history. To the victors go the spoils, right?
The encrypted software that Apple uses to lock down an iPhone can be, and has been considered, an expression of free speech. Can the government force Apple to edit, change, or create different speech by the requirement than an encrypted device be unencrypted or forced to include backdoor access to that speech?
Titans of industry are pitched in a battle with the government. Who will win? The usual suspects, of course, probably based upon these two words. Citizens United. Conservatives want corporations to be people. Apple is a corporation and should be protected by the same rights as you and me.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks.