The government’s right to paw through your stuff
Let me start out with the conclusion – the government does not have a right to have easy access to your possessions on the premise that at some point in the future you might turn out to be a criminal.
There’s a lot of hoopla going on about child molesting pedophiliac serial murdering terorists(non islamic of course) who are just waiting for the release of the newer Apple IPhones so they can encrypt and hide the evidence of their crimes. This reckless disregard for government’s need to easily poke through your posessions, i.e. read the stuff on your IPhone, will allow these yet to be criminals to get off scott free because the government will be unable to easily decrypt the data.
Well, that at least seems to be the argument I keep hearing. I probably could have thrown in some other things these criminals are going to encrypt, but pedophiles and terrorists seem to be the hot button crimes the government thinks are the be all end all arguments for why they should be able to get at the data without a great deal of hassel on their part.
As a counter weight to that set of players, let’s imagine a journalist, with secret “Deep-Throat” level informers inside government who has data encrypted on his phone that pertains to government malfeasence with names, and dates, including the name or names of the informers (and copies of 8×10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a parapgraph on the back explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against them). And for crazy but obvious reasons the reporter really doesn’t want to share that with the government and he encrypts it on his IPhone.
Let’s presume for a moment a corrupt Department of Justice or other government agency. Crazy talk, right? Gee, that could never happen (cough cough…. DOJ FIFA foot dragging, contempt of Congress Fast and Furious, IRS investigations, lost emails, crashing hard drives, NSA reading everything written by everybody that traverses the internet) Let’s presume that the encrypted data that would bring down the government perps in these corrupt agencies is on the reporter’s IPhone, and the corrupt agency creates reason to confiscate said phone, and would like to know what’s on it, again, for crazy but obvious reasons. Suppose the criminals ARE the government. Nah, that could never happen.
So, do you believe you’re obligated to make your possessions easy for the government to search? Do you believe your house should be an open book to government warrant, because, hey, you might be a criminal in the future. People don’t think of their data as a posession, but just because the old way of storing data was ‘papers’ doesn’t mean that ‘bits’ aren’t really the same thing. All we did was change how it’s stored. Should you be obligated to tell the government about any and every secret hiding place you have on your property when they show up looking for those Cuban cigars you knew were illegal to bring back from your Carribean cruise? Should you be obligated to make it EASY for them?
It has been correctly pointed out that this action by Apple is in direct response to the NSA snooping, and we joke about it, but be honest, we all pretty much think they’re looking at EVERYTHING, don’t we? And despite their protestations of innocence, we think they’re doing it here, and abroad, for practically everyone, on any electronic transmission they can get access to. It all has to go through routers somewhere, sometime, it’s all being recorded and relayed at some point. All of it. This ain’t magic ya know. And now they’re outraged! outraged! that people might be trying to make it hard on them to peek and poke and prod.
And I’m supposed to believe being able to crack the data on an IPhone is going to stop, oh, another Boston Marathon bombing? When they lost track of a guy because they didn’t spell his name right? How are they going to get his phone to decrypt his data?
Nah, sorry, there’s a whole lot of government house cleaning that needs to go on at the IRS, the DOJ, and the many flavors of DHS before I get excercised about them not being able to easily decrypt data on an IPhone. I’m more afraid of the listed agencies than I am of Achmed and Mohammed or the guy who dresses up as Barney and keeps encrypted pictures of nude kids on his phone. I’m against all of those things okay? And my way of dealing with such people would probably be much more at home on the frontier west of the 1800’s than 21st century America.
But we have people flowing across our southern border from who knows where, thinking who knows what, carrying who knows what diseases or posessions and agencies getting bent out of shape over not being able to decrypt future criminal eveidence are doing exactly jack-all to stop THAT even though they know it’s occurring RIGHT NOW. Keep Achmed and Mohammed out of the country, and we won’t have to worry what they’ve encrypted on their IPhones. And we caught pedo’s before they had IPhones to encrypt data on.
Federal law enforcment can spare me their attempts at moral outrage because from what I see they’re not outraged much by the abuses they can do something about directly right now that have nothing to do with easily decrypting future data on a future criminal’s phone. And I am flat not convinced that the 4th Amendment was written to make it easier for the government to poke through my stuff.