Unless you live under a rock or are completely off the grid, you’ve seen the multiple stories about the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI.
This battle is being waged by both parties on two fronts: in court and in the court of public opinion.
For most people, it’s an interesting story and nothing else.
For some, its a matter of national security, and Apple needs to help the FBI get into the phone so that we can stop terrorists.
Others think that opening a ‘back door’ to the Apple’s iPhone security protocol would set a dangerous precedent, forever compromising our civil liberties.
Regardless of what side you come down on – disinterest, the government or Apple – it’s important that you pay attention because the ramifications will be far-reaching.
As a general rule, people are apathetic.
If it doesn’t affect them you who gives a fuck. Right?
They’re not trying to get into my phone, so what’s the big deal?
If you’re an Android user, you care even less.
This is about Apple. Who cares what Tim Cook and those Apple fan boys think?
If the order says you’re supposed to help the FBI disable the auto erase function of the pass code lock (currently preventing them from utilizing a brute force approach to figuring out the phone’s pass code) then write the frigging code and be done with it.
If you’re a flag-flying patriot, your interests turn on Apple’s duty to ‘Murica.
Apple needs to do it’s American duty and protect it’s citizens.
Open the damn phone and let’s excoriate the terrorist cancer from society.
But if you’re an Apple user, concerned citizen or privacy advocate, you understand the true implications of Apple complying with this order.
No one would disagree that stopping terrorism is a valid reason for assisting the government with any inquiry involving a suspected terrorist’s mobile device.
But at what point does assisting the government end and infringing upon civil liberties begin?
In this instance, the government wants Apple to do something unprecedented: write code to obfuscate the utility of the current security protocols Apple has in place to protect individual users of it’s products.
While the order is written to narrowly apply to one device, we all know that once the FBI has access to a tool that creates a back door to users’ devices – the FBI has access to a tool that creates a back door to users’ devices.
Through high profile exposes from investigative journalists, Wikileaks and various former government whistle blowers, we know that the government frequently oversteps legal boundaries in pursuit of it’s objectives.
NSA’s data collection activities, widespread eavesdropping on citizens, clandestine drone strikes on Americans – I could go on and on -prove unequivocally that we can’t necessarily trust what we’re told about the government’s stated intentions.
More importantly, (true to form) the government has allegedly already been working on methods to break the encryption technology that companies like Apple and Google have developed in light of the Wikileaks scandal.
Whether or not it would be easier if Apple ‘helped’ the government, is immaterial.
What matters more is that a company shouldn’t be forced to compromise the security measures it’s developed, when other less drastic alternatives exist.
We already live in a time where virtually everything we do is monitored, whether we know (or consent to) it or not.
The few illusions we have of privacy are important, especially as data collection assails us from all directions, from our computers, to our mobile devices, to our new found obsession with wearables.
The advent of IoT means that even more data will be collected of our every digital interaction.
If the courts do not reverse their order and if Apple is unsuccessful in their appeal, the precedent could extend to the maker of any data collection device being forced to add ‘back doors’ to circumvent security protocols.
And that is what is truly at stake.
It’s one thing to be asked to turn over data pursuant to a properly obtained subpoena.
Its quite another to be asked to expend development resources of a private company to assist the government to breach the security protocols of an individual’s device.
If the back door was already there, no problem.
But to be forced to create the back door, that’s an entirely different creature altogether.
How this ultimately plays out remains to be seen.
Will Apple capitulate to the government’s request (kicking and screaming as many pundits anticipate) or not? Who knows?
I, for one, hope not.
Because once Pandora’s box has been opened, you can’t undo that.
I’m sure many will disagree with me and that’s fine.
Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.
One final thought, if you’re interested in following the debate on social media, you can using the hashtag #applevsfbi