All you need to know in terms of Tim Cook vs the FBI is Donald Trump’s position on the matter. Trump believes Apple is in the wrong and should be forced to provide the government with a backdoor hack into their iPhone. Because he believes national security trumps personal privacy. This is actually true – in China. And Russia. If you already take issue with this self-made celebrity, then you can assume Apple is right.
To be fair, and less political, personal privacy is a complex issue. The U.S. Constitution references no protections for personal privacy. The Bill of Rights however references numerous Amendments that allude to privacy. Privacy of beliefs, privacy in your home, privacy of person and possessions against unreasonable search and seizure. I think the list goes on but I’m not a lawyer and can’t defend any of them. I do know Americans expect a certain degree of privacy and the government has the authority and corresponding legal process to transcend our privacy given sufficient warrant. In this case, the FBI is leveraging the All Writs Act to demand that Apple engineer a new IOS version that disables the feature that would wipe the iPhone data after 10 unsuccessful login attempts. This would allow the FBI to subsequently hack into the iPhone with a brute force password attack.
Precedent is set that allows the government to do this. Shoot, there is even a recent case where the U.S. Attorney’s Office forced another smart phone manufacturer to unlock a screenlock. But Apple is refusing to comply. Tim Cook wrote an open letter explaining why. He frames his argument from his customers’ perspective. But just think about the consequences for his company. Apple is being forced to weaken their product in a global market and their competitors are not being forced to do this. They will immediately be at a competitive disadvantage in a global market for their most successful product. Game over for the iPhone.
And recall, corporations are deemed people by the Supreme Court. Apple will have all of the same assurances to privacy, to protection from self incrimination, to a right to earn a living. They have every right to do business as any American as an individual. They have the resources and will win this battle.
Why is it so hard to take a position on personal privacy vs State security? The State has laws and legal precedent allowing them to violate your personal privacy. We have laws and legal precedent allowing us to refuse, assuming we have the financial resources to fight. But encryption just sort of breaks everything. Encryption means, even if the government gets their way, they might not be technically able to have their way. You can’t hand them the keys to your data if you’re dead. Encryption puts the government in a real pickle.
This will be the data privacy fight of the new millennium. This will be good.