I haven’t written anything for a while, and its not because I haven’t had thoughts, but ive just been really busy to the point where you’re so busy that you all of a sudden become unbusy and you’re not sure how to deal with it, so you figure out a way to become even more busy than before, and then after a few days of just straight up stress you realize, “oh yeah… I forgot that I need balance in my life” .. you know what I mean? Anyways…
Lets talk about one of my favorite topics: Cyber security. This is a topic near and dear to my heart because it’s fucking intense shit. I want to write a few posts about my feelings on recent cyber security threats from our own country, and decided to start with the most recent, eyebrow raising case, the US vs. Apple.
Tim Cook- willing to fight for American’s Privacy
So everyone probably has heard about the San Bernardino iPhone Case. The FBI vs. Apple case. February 16th, 2016, the Federal Court ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter to see if the shooter was working directly with ISIS. Specifically, the FBI is asking that Apple make software that would allow people (or really, in this case, super computers that can try multiple combinations quickly until it figures out the passcode) to try passcodes on iPhones as many times as they’d like before all of the information on the phone is deleted. Currently, if you have an iPhone, you can try to unlock the phone up to 10 times in a row with a wrong code before it swipes all the info clean.
The next day, Apple strongly said no, which is a nice, big “fuck you” to the government.
Well, why wouldn’t Apple want to help unlock the phone? Surely, Tim Cook and everyone at Apple would want to find any other terrorists who may be connected to this travesty. And the answer to this, is of course they want justice for the victims families and to help find any additional terrorist ties. But the real reason why Tim Cook doesn’t want to build this software is because he believes in the American values of LIBERTY and PRIVACY.
So can the FBI really not just unlock it anyways? The argument is that the Apple’s software all are signed by an authorized signature from Apple when there are an updates or changes in the software’s encryption. What the FBI apparently can’t do is forge this secret signature and they need Apple’s help. But don’t get it twisted- again, they aren’t trying to just unlock the phone- they are asking for Apple to build SPECIFIC SOFTWARE that the government can use to unlock any iPhone. And that, my friends, is what this whole circus is all about. It’s not about the tragedy in San Bernardino, that is simply the guise the government is using so that they can strengthen the capabilities to spy on its own citizens.
Tim Cook did already give the government everything that they could that was on the phone, btw, before the court order. Plus the government made a mistake- they would have been able to upload information up to the cloud, but fucked up when they changed the user name on the phone, and therefore can no longer backup the phone onto the cloud.
Here’s Tim Cooks words, explaining that this case is not a case about unlocking a phone, but is case about the future of civil liberties: “We cant have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys [to use]. Any backdoor that is created give the bad guys can exploit anyone’s iPhone”. Cook explains that if Apple makes this software being requested, that it is analogous to creating cancer for technology.
And if the government has the power to make apple write this software, then what is next? What else will Apple be forced to create in the name of “security”? A few republican debates ago, when I transcribed the whole thing, the candidates were in agreement that we should basically draft computer programmers to work for the FBI. And if they don’t comply then they are breaking the law. So Silicon Valley folk, I’d consider making sure that your passport is up to date before you get drug into a cyber war.
The government was never meant to be this big in terms of ruling daily life. With a precedent set by Apple if they were to give into the government would basically give the a-ok for the government to strong arm nongovernmental agencies to comply with them. Technically, due to the court order the FBI had, they could have come in with heavily armed SWAT teams and made the employees at Apple work to make this software. They didn’t because they were able to find an Israeli company to unlock the phone (its not clear to me if they just unlocked the phone, of if they created software that can ultimately hack into anyone’s iphone). That’s how out of control this whole thing is.
Tim Cook takes pride in his company. He made a wonderful statement with his interveiw with Charlie Rose, in which he said that the people buy apple products are his customers, not the government. This is about civil liberties, if we take encryption away, the only people affected are the good people, not the bad people. If we limit it, it will hurt the good people because anyone can hack into any iPhone. He also explained that there are things that technology should not be allowed to do.
Ok, how about the “Why should I care, I’m not doing anything bad, let the government record all of my daily doings, who gives a shit” argument. Well one, it is the principle. When you are giving up all of your privacy to the government you are giving up your autonomy. The founding fathers decided that the government should not get in peoples way of choosing how they want to live.
You know the terms and conditions that no one reads? Well, most of the apps on your phone ask for permission to due multiple insidious things, such as make calls, record you, to listen to your phone calls, to read your text messages, all without even having the app running. And since you agreed to those terms and conditions- well, you willingly gave permission to be under big brother’s watch.
And what are some examples how this can get out of hand?: say in a custody court, the judge allows the husband to open his wife’s phone and shows a picture of her smoking marijuana. This can get her kids taken away, even if it was a one time thing at a party.
Or what if you get pulled over, and your car gets searched, including your phone. And they open up your phone and see all your naked pictures of you and your husband. This might not be incriminating (unless you live in Mississippi where sodomy is illegal and you’re giving your hubby a bj- because that is considered sodomy), it still is a total invasion of privacy.
So this is why I’m worried about the future of the internet and our civil liberties. They are already being compromised. And when government is already so corrupt, who is to know what else will happen. The FBI’s overstepping of liberties is enough to recognize that absolute power corrupts absolutely.