Tag Archives: security

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

Mobile phones everywhere and no (free) public wi-fi!

No public wi-fi? For shame! For shame!

Last week, I wrote a post about how annoying it is to attend a ‘digital’ function, where there is no public wi-fi to jump on.

Equally frustrating is when you attend a function, where the conveners publish their Twitter handles or event hashtags, but leave attendees to their own devices to wade their way through spotty and/or inaccessible cellular signals to post updates to their social media accounts.

I’ve been feeling this frustration for some time now, as evidenced by this unpublished rant from Social Media Week 2010:

“Sitting at the Bands and Fans panel hosted by CMJ at Social Media Week and I’m pissed!

Why? You ask. Because there’s no wifi!

WTF!? How can we be sitting talking about the value of Tweeting and staying connected, when there is no f*#king internet connection?!

AARRGH!

I’m just saying. AT&T’s network is crap and I can’t flex on my iPad the way I had intended!

Hootsuite is unresponsive.

Twitter feels like swimming through molasses.

Facebook is kaput!

I am ashamed to be a part of this right now. Ashamed.

Red Bull Space – you should have shame too!

All this great info from J Sider, Marni Wandner, Robbie Mackey and Ariel Hyatt and no wifi!

Booo!”

Needless to say, almost two years later and not much has changed.

Businesses have not adopted offering free wi-fi as a standard.

Even if (as my good friend Rob Underwood noted in my rant last week about the NYC DMC event) the reason for a private wi-fi or an unpublished password is security, when you host one of these functions, setting up a temporary wi-fi network and/or password is a sensible thing to do.

With municipalities across the country looking at implementing free public wi-fi, shouldn’t businesses, retail establishments, cafes, bars and restaurants also look to do the same thing?

How many of we entrepreneurs select meeting spots bases on the availability of wi-fi?

Starbucks has undoubtedly made a butt-load of cash off of folks using their wi-fi (because we know their coffee is…how do you say…crap!)

Anyway, perhaps I’m all sour grapes because I’m on AT&T and their 3G network isn’t worth the technology it’s built on (damn you FCC for interfering with the acquisition of TMobile!!)

Or perhaps, rather, wi-fi is a really important element towards achieving a broader network of connected users and devices.

Whatever the case for adopting a free wi-fi solution may be, know that if I’m coming to an event, and it’s not popping, I’m putting you on full blast!

I feel better.

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Filed under digital advocacy, opinion, rant, Smack talking, technology