Apple v. FBI
Remember when society fell apart and the police were no longer able to conduct investigations because Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was not able to be pried open? No? Me neither.
Each passing day sees more law enforcement officials and spokespeople come forward to tell us how the sky will rain fire from terrorists, and the ground will open to the pits of hell because pedophiles, and all manner of evil in between, all because of the new boogeyman term that they are attempting to associate directly with their last favorite one (terrorism)… ENCRYPTION…
Encryption has been around since the first secrets needed to be kept, only back then you didn’t have a smartphone, but rather you spoke in code, which had to be standardized when that secret needed to be shared between more than one person. “Remember that thing you have to do at the place?”… Sound familiar? It’s probably something that you’ve heard before, given that it’s in so many shows and books, but that’s a basic form of encryption. When two people share a secret and need to talk about it where others may be able to hear, but don’t want to have the real communication be known, they substitute words for others in order to obfuscate the real meaning.
We’ve come a long way from a simple transposition cypher used by the Roman legions, to dual-elliptic curve cryptograpy and asymmetric keys, but it’s still employed for the same reason. We all feel a need to keep some things private, whether that information is simply a diary or a bank’s records, privacy is important to everyone and encryption is how it must be done once that information has to be outside of your own head. This also includes the system which we unlock with our password, since it has to have a copy of that information in order to compare it to.
At this point I’m sure that most people have come across the particulars of what’s been going on between the FBI and their seeking to use the All Writs Act of 1789 to force Apple Inc. to create a version of iOS which removes some of the key security features of the OS. As the case goes on, and the venue has changed to the court of public opinion and the House Judiciary Committee, the FBI’s message has changed a bit from what they stated in their filing for the warrant to compel Apple to create this tool.
What’s at the heart of this matter is not just about the technology itself, but while for Apple it’s about the US government not having the ability to conscript them (or other company) to create tools or technologies for the use of any or all government agencies to be used against the populace, but in a broader sense it’s also about the rights of people to the security of their person, property and thoughts against those who wish to exert power of them, for right or wrong.
There is no question that the obstacles facing law enforcement are real, and in certain aspects are getting more difficult to overcome, but that’s why the concept human rights are and why they are enshrined in the laws of “free” states, they are obstacles to the imposition of power, in whatever form that may take, over those who do not have that power themselves. Law enforcement is charged with protecting the safety of the public it was created by, by enforcing the laws also created by that same citizenry. It is not their purpose to make attempts to change laws when they become inconvenient to how they would like to investigate a crime.
In this case the crime being investigated is the mass murder of 14 coworkers and the attempted murder of another 22. Typically to be considered an act of terrorism it would need to be against a class of people or against a random group in a large public place to maximize the cross-section of people that are affected who won’t ever be sure why they were targeted. Just because they have a different faith than the majority of Americans this has been called terrorism rather than a mass murder event like any of those that sadly occur almost daily in the US. The previous attack of this magnitude was the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting which wasn’t called terrorism, and this is the largest terrorist attack since the September 11, 2001 attacks where organized cells of a terrorist organization carried out coordinated attacks, as opposed to a married couple walking into a company party with weapons.
Using fear to change the way a society behaves, forcing the people to live in a state of constant fear of death causing them to give up their freedoms just to feel more safe and secure, that’s called terrorism. Right now that’s what we are seeing from law enforcement, law makers, media outlets and pretty much anyone who stands to gain from a populace who is too afraid to assert their entrenched rights.
Law enforcement needs to evolve with the times, rather than what the FBI is doing by saying ‘We’ve tried a few passwords, but it’s too hard, so now you do it for us or we’ll get the laws changed to make you.’