My father is a staunch conservative but after watching the presidential candidates on both sides has declared, ‘The country is going to hell in a handbasket.’ I’m not sure how it’s possible I never heard that saying before, but it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment.
Apple, Google, and others are being castigated, criticized, and now considered, by some, to be aiding, abetting, and providing material support to terrorists. Say what? How so? Apple and Google provide their respective customers with strong encryption methods, and some in the government want that to stop. Ipso facto, Apple is a criminal company.
All Your Secrets Are Belong To Us
Apple (and Google and others) provide highly encrypted and secure methods for customers to hide information from the government’s prying eyes. Ostensibly, two terrorists with two iPhones with encrypted communication could be tracked by the government’s spooks if it were not for Apple’s complicit material support for terrorism.
The way Apple has set up some of it’s encryption in iOS means even the company itself cannot decrypt or open private communications– yours, mine, or terrorists– therefore, ipso facto, Apple becomes a criminal company which aids, abets, and provides material support to terrorists.
How could that happen?
Let’s assume that bad guys with connections to terrorists are being monitored by the F.B.I. or the C.I.A. or the N.S.A or whatever organization monitors such activity. Then, two of the terrorists who are being tracked by the trackers-that-be buy iPhones and suddenly their trail then goes dark because their communications are encrypted.
Apple has already been warned by government officials of the potential threats to national security from the encryption methods the company provides to customers. Additionally, a provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act provides a way for victims of terrorism to sue those who have provided material support to terrorists.
There’s still a bridge to cross here. First, to be engaged in criminal activity, Apple would need to know of the potential (which it does), and knowingly or intending that the company’s encryption methods are specifically used by terrorists to commit crimes against the country. A court would have to decide that issue.
In essence, the U.S. government wants to be able to know all of your secrets through whatever means you communicate them, but doesn’t want ordinary citizens to know their secrets. To accomplish that, the government simply wants access to your communications if it thinks it needs the access to thwart terrorist activities. Some in the government want Apple and other companies to create a software backdoor into their encryption methods. So far, Apple claims it has said no. How safe would such systems be if the government had a method to circumvent the encryption?
As it is now, the government cannot manage it’s own information and keep it safe from outside hackers, so what is my incentive to give them unfettered access to everything else, including my personal communication?