President Nixon had an enemies list. So does President Trump. If you visited an anti-Trump website recently, the government wants to know who you are, when you visited the site, and what your intentions might have been at the time.
DreamHost hosts disruptj20.com, an anti-Trump website. The Department of Justice (DoJ) wants to know who visited the website and sought a court order for DreamHost to turn over data which could be used to track visitors.
The government values and respects the First Amendment right of all Americans to participate in peaceful political protests and to read protected political expression online…
Wait for it…
This Warrant has nothing to do with that right. The Warrant is focused on evidence of the planning, coordination and participation in a criminal act – that is, a premeditated riot.
In other words, people visited that website and some of them might have created a riot– somewhat akin to the Charlottesville, VA riot– and the government wants to know who they are and how they participated, so they cast a very wide and broad net to grab whatever they could from a website that doesn’t like President Trump.
Law enforcement will set aside any information that was produced by DreamHost but is outside the scope of the Warrant; it will seal that information; and it will not revisit that information without a further court order
Uh huh. If you believe that then I have a bridge here in Brooklyn that I’d be happy to sell to you. It’s quite a bargain.
Can the government be trusted in such situations? In some, perhaps. In this one, no. Why not? President Trump is a vengeful person and his influence has spread throughout government, and to the point where courts have stymied some of his unlawful actions.
This is another one.
What role does Apple play in this? Let’s assume that some of the 1.3-million visitors to the disruptj20.com website used Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Apple has no built-in method to prevent websites or the government from tracking online use by the company’s one billion customers.
VPNs are all the rage these days. You can get some for free, many for nominal monthly fees, and the Opera browser has VPN built in. Free. If Apple really is all about privacy and security for its customers, where is the Apple-branded virtual private network? The VPN for the rest of us.
Here’s what Apple is doing elsewhere in technology. Content. Apple has a $1-billion war chest to create original content which becomes part of the iTunes and Apple TV and Apple Music content machine. Why? To keep Apple’s customers using Apple’s hardware the company creates software and content.
Why not add an Apple-branded VPN to the process? I have Apple TV, Apple Music, and made plenty of purchases via iTunes. Don’t I deserve a built-in VPN service to help protect me from outsiders and crazy world leaders?
Apple needs to start helping its customers avoid confrontation with government officials. Touch ID helps. Passwords help. The upcoming 3D Face ID system will help. So would an Apple VPN.