Privacy matters: Unlocking an iPhone would set a dangerous precedent

Apple gets it right, both political parties and the government get it wrong.


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Apple is embroiled in complex argument with the FBI over a court-ordered unlocking of an iPhone, one that prompted Tim Cook to speak out on the issue and defend the company’s position that this represents a chilling intrusion into our most sacred rights.

Let us go to the first person you would naturally go to for an opinion on the technical, legal and ethical implications of creating a back door to private smartphone data.

“Trump slams Apple’s rejection of court order”

Aw, man. Someone got the Macalope’s list of people to go to for an opinion on the technical, legal and ethical implications of creating a back door to private smartphone data all out of order. Who did this? Trevor, was it you?

“I agree 100 percent with the courts. In that case, we should open it up,” the Republican presidential candidate told “Fox & Friends,” referring to a court order demanding the California-based tech company create a way for federal investigators to break into the iPhone of one of the perpetrators of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack.

Ah, the pie-eyed optimism of fresh-faced presidential candidates who blithely predict that legal things can apply to just this one case! It’s easy! Just do it in this case because it’s “common sense” and then don’t do it again in cases where “common sense” does not apply!

“I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads.”

Bang your head against the iPhone. Has anyone tried that?

“We have to use common sense,” Trump continued…

You know, like B.o.B.

“Who do they think they are?”

Oh, the Macalope knows this one! They think they’re the company that’s protecting individuals’ rights against government overreach. Unlike, apparently any of the other major tech companies (late on Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed support for Tim Cook’s post on Twitter) and practically every elected politician out there, including former Constitutional law professor President Obama:

BREAKING: White House says Department of Justice is not asking Apple to create a new backdoor, asking for access to one device.

Do as I Constitutionally law profess, students, not as I Constitutionally law do!

But for real, the government just wants this one skeleton key and they promise they’ll only use it on this one iPhone and forget about the fact that they created a giant virtual vacuum cleaner that sucked up everyone’s phone records, why would you even bring that up, it’s totally unrelated to this. The Macalope is starting to think that this is almost an addiction with the government. Each successive inroad into destroying its citizens’ privacy is a cry for help.

”Just one more,” the government breathed heavily as it scrolled wantonly through the Netflix queue of a real estate agent from Albuquerque. “The entire run of Babylon 5? Oh, Ted Anderson, you little minx.”

It is regrettable that this case revolves around an organized act of terrorism that killed 14 people, but even if it were technically true that what the FBI is demanding Apple create to unlock this phone were just for this phone (which is isn’t), doing so would create a dangerous precedent, as Rich Mogull points out.

…the truth is, no legal case applies in a vacuum. If this goes through, if Apple is forced to assist, it will open a floodgate of law enforcement requests. Then what about civil cases? Opening a phone to support a messy divorce and child custody battle? Or what about requests from other nations, especially places like China and the UAE that already forced BlackBerry and others to compromise the security of their customers?

It’s pretty depressing that the only thing both parties in this country can agree on is the idea that its citizens have too much privacy.

That’s the big joke here. It just isn’t funny.

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