Tag Archives: FBI

Apple vs FBI. Why the outcome matters.

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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

 

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Filed under advocacy, iPhone, mobile

Ummm FBI…what are you doing with my UDID?

When I first heard about the recent hack of 12 million Apple device UDIDs, I wasn’t too concerned.

I caught a sound bite on Fox 5 News, on my way out the door, so the details were necessarily sketchy.

But hackers hack.

So what?

In my mind, the 12 million hacked UDIDs was a drop in the bucket relative to the total number of Apple devices out there.

I felt my nonchalant attitude was warranted.

But then I learned that these IDs had allegedly been lifted from a FBI laptop that hackers had somehow gained access to.

And then I started to be a little more concerned.

Why is the FBI just leaving laptops with sensitive information laying around?

And why the hell does an FBI laptop have 12 million UDIDs on it?

What legitimate purpose could the FBI possibly have for acquiring the UDIDs in the first place?

And then I learned that it wasn’t just random UDIDs.

The laptop allegedly also contained specific information about the users connected to those device IDs, including their names, email addresses and credit card information.

And now I’m concerned.

My colleagues, in the office, were following the story and passed around the link to the site where you could check to see if you were among the victims of this latest digital security breach.

We joked about how not being on the list didn’t mean that you were any more secure, than if you had been.

All jokes aside – I immediately checked to see if any of my devices were among those compromised.

Luckily they were not.

But despite my relief, I can’t help but be a tad ticked off.

The infamous hacks and blatant privacy policy violations of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Chase, et al, can leave no doubt that ‘online security’ is a misnomer.

With this latest gaffe, we’ve learned that even the Feds are in on the chicanery.

And although both the FBI and Apple have denied that any such leak occurred, in light of the frequency with which hacks occur it’s hard to believe either of them.

It seems like every other day, we hear about some major leak of private or secure data.

And if it’s hackers, doing their thing, then so be it.

Hackers serve a legitimate role in keeping these corporations, who have a fiduciary duty to safeguard our information, on their collective j-o-b.

Without hackers exposing the flaws in corporate firewalls and security protocols, our shit would be a whole lot less secure than it is.

On an aside – I’m waiting for September 29th – the day after hackers have threatened to release Romney’s tax returns.

I digress.

This latest incident has exposed a reality that few of us really consider…

That online information is inherently insecure.

Each time you fill out an online form, use your credit card to make a purchase from your mobile phone, or create a digital profile on some site, you compromise your data.

And in this increasingly digital world we live in, this compromise is virtually inescapable.

Of course, most many some a few of us take steps to safeguard our information online.

We use services like 1password to avoid the trap of using common passwords for all of our online accounts.

We change our passwords frequently and don’t share them with anyone.

We do whatever we have to do to avoid having our private info floating around in cyberspace.

At the end of the day, I pray that these cats get their acts together.

And despite the denials, if this hack is real, then Apple and the FBI, you’ve got some splainin’ to do!

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Filed under digital advocacy, opinion, privacy, rant, technology