In an obvious and public affront to the U.S. government, Apple has been hiding behind the U.S. constitution, and using digital sleight-of-hand in an ongoing attempt to help citizens of the nation, and customers, to remain free from oppression and tyranny. Who oppresses? Who tyrannizes? For many, it’s the very government officials sworn to protect both constitution and citizens.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T., Or Else
Recently I read of the U.S. governments attempts to force Apple to turn over access to all text messages flowing through the company’s servers. Why would the government want to read your text messages?
Terrorists may use text messaging to communicate with one another, so by trampling on your rights to due process, skirting around probable cause, and casting a fishing net around the world, the government’s spooks might catch a would-be terrorist before an attack takes place.
That’s the theory. You give up some privacy and constitutional rights while the government checks your messages in the hopes of catching a bad guy or two. Apple side-stepped the government’s requests to interfere by encrypting text messages and throwing away the key. That made government officials– elected and hired– furious at Apple’s executives.
What’s the issue? The U.S. Constitution, specifically Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Are you secure if the government can seize your private information and effects in a massive fishing expedition and do so without probable cause?
Is Apple hiding behind the constitution? Probably so, but not overtly so, as these challenges to both company and customers have far reaching ramifications.
Who Monitors The Monitors?
Every citizen should want the government to catch terrorists and thwart their plans before an attack. But at what cost? That’s the issue here. Does the government have a good track record protecting rights and being transparent about what it does?
If the government is to monitor the people, then who monitors the monitors? I, for one, am glad to see Apple stand up for individual freedom, knowing that members of the Supreme Court may feel differently, but so far, a number of U.S. courts have ruled against the government’s attempts to monitor citizens on a mass basis.