Free Markets, Free People

Dangerous ground or much ado about nothing?

The FBI, in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, has gone to court and gotten a judge to order Apple to write software to decrypt the iPhones the two terrorists used.  The FBI has been unable to decrypt them on their own.

Apple has refused to comply.

After reading much of the back and forth between government and Apple, I’m with Apple.  As the Electronic Freedom Frontier said:

The government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone,” it said Tuesday evening. “And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.”

It’s about violating your privacy by being ordered to hand the government the key with implied permission to use it. Think Pandora’s Box.  Forget security, you may as well not encrypt a phone if a master key is available out there.  We’d love to believe the government when it says it will only use that software once, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence (and experience with governments) knows how likely that is.  And, well, we also know how well our government does cyber security, don’t we Ms. Clinton?

Er, anyway – the government is using a 18th century law, the All Writs Act, to claim that it can demand such software from Apple.

The law lets judges “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

A little word salad that has the government claiming it has every right to make this demand do just about anything it chooses (if it can get a judge to say so).

Marc J. Zwillinger, a lawyer for Apple, wrote in a letter for a related case in October that the All Writs Act could not be interpreted to “force a company to take possession of a device outside of its possession or control and perform services on that device, particularly where the company does not perform such services as part of its business and there may be alternative means of obtaining the requested information available to the government.”

The government says it does not have those alternative means.

Mr. Cook’s statement called the government’s demands “chilling.”

“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

This is another indicator of how corrosive the “War on Terror” has been to our liberties.  It’s like slow drip acid, with every drop another assault on what we once took for granted as protections against an invasive government.  And our government has been more and more invasive as concerns our privacy since this “war” began.

Sometimes, looking at what the government attempts to do in the name of security, you’d think the terrorists had won, wouldn’t you?


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13 Responses to Dangerous ground or much ado about nothing?

  • In the end I expect the war on terror will work the way the war on drugs does – we’ll still be fighting it years from now with ever newer excuses to invade more and more of our lives ‘for our safety’ of course.

    Never have to declare victory, and never have to account for the lack of real progress in order to continue.

    • We’re trying to fight it by nerfing up the country against attacks instead of putting an end to the attackers.

      Terrorism is sponsored. It takes money for the organized groups and it takes money for the propaganda that helps motivate and direct the lone actors. We were doing a little something against the money under Bush, until exposing the bank’s co-operation under Bush became an imperative. But even then we tracked the movement. We didn’t punish the source.

      A large part of the source are wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the ME. Some of these guys one way or another are probably dropping coin in Washington when they should be cinders.

      • There’s money all around – budgets for the bigwigs who sit in Washington and ‘fight’ things, and budgets for the bigwigs on the other side who think today would be a really great day for “Achmed” to drive a truck bomb into a building while Leader Mohammed watches the results on “Jeddah News at 5:00” then asks his benefactor for another couple of million to buy more splodedopes, more bombs and more trucks.

        Same with the drug war –
        Narco lords make a bundle with the prices up, and on the other side someone’s budget goes up because they pulled you over for a broken taillight and you had $10,000 in cash you thought you were going to use to buy cars, and we confiscated it because it obviously could only be used for DRUGS!!!!!

        And if you’re middleman on up to the topman, you really want this to end why?

  • Considering how they let the crime scene be destroyed within days, its easy to convince me they are using this case only to break Apple’s security and they have no real interest in the contents of the phone.

    And they are asking Apple to code new firmware so they can safely brute force the key code. Right now if you brute force an unlock code, a phone will delete itself after so many tries. They want that blocked among other things.

    Basically they are requiring them not to turn over something existing but to expend effort in developing a way of defeating their own products security. To me there’s a subtle slavery aspect in there. They are conscripting them into being an active member of law enforcement. Like if your neighbors were conscripted into spying on your activities.

  • No. NO.
    Our various alphabet agencies have PLENTY of money for whatever – for SWAT teams, for listening/spying/snooping on us, for all sorts of sh_t. They want the phone opened? Go build the damn key yourselves (PS, anyone else have any doubt the Chinese or Anonymous or other competent group would’ve had this nut cracked days ago?)

    Furthermore, maybe the time to do some damn detective work and vetting was when the pig was rubber-stamped into the country without so much as a glance. Same with 9/11 – you could’ve stopped these guys at point of entry had your jobs been done, don’t go putting my stuff at risk now because you need the easy way out

    • Notice we never execute the guards for letting the enemy inside the walls in the first place.

      Instead we give them promotions, more men, bigger budgets, and more justification for taking away your freedom.

  • When MSNBC host Joe Scarborough asked the billionaire businessman what he thought of Cook’s decision not to assist the FBI, Trump said it was “disgraceful.”

    “I have always felt security first. Apple should, we should force them to do it. We should do whatever we have to do,” Trump said.

    ANOTHER glimpse into the mind of a Collectivist.
    – See more at:

  • Just smoke and mirrors. The government already has a backdoor in pretty much everything including Apple products — this whole commotion is just trying to hide the apparent truth.

    Besides any backdoor in Apple would obviously come with the obligatory gag order anyway.

  • Just google: Apple NSA backdoor

    • They supposedly had a change in their technology where that was no longer true on the new phones.

  • Seems to me just a ploy to boost Apple’s image about “privacy”. Obviously Apple is not really give the NSA the finger — but it does make for a nice publicity stunt!