Much digital ink has been spilled on the battle Apple has with various entities of the U.S. government. Basically, the government wants a backdoor into our encrypted devices. Because for our own good.
Apple’s stance against government intrusion is commendable but even if the iPhone maker loses at every turn and our devices all come with a government back door that authorities and criminals can use to extract personal and private information, terrorists still win, and we still lose. Why?
The government is playing a dangerous game of Whack-a-Mole and the only winner will be terrorists and criminals who use encryption on their devices to hide incriminating evidence and communications.
Terrorists and criminals may be fully mislead by Satan, extraterrestrials, bad genes, or cosmic forces beyond our knowledge, but they’re not stupid.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
Here’s where the game of Whack-a-Mole takes place. If the iPhone and other smartphones the world over are required to have a government accessible backdoor, then terrorists and criminals will simply move to a different form of encryption and communication that remains inaccessible by authorities.
It’s that simple, folks.
Governments all over the world will not be able to stop encrypted applications from appearing on smartphones and computer devices. Assume for a moment that the iPhone is the smartphone of choice among terrorists and criminals because it is locked down, encrypted, and communications from one device to another are also encrypted. That makes the iPhone a target for governments because the iPhone may contain incriminating evidence the governments want and need because security.
Once the terrorists and criminals know that the iPhone or any other device is no longer safe they will move on to applications and other methods which are safe. At that point, terrorists and criminals remain safe from government intrusion, while we law abiding citizens remain unsafe from everyone.
What’s wrong with that picture?
Applications abound for iPhone and Android phones which encrypt conversations and data without using Apple’s built-in encryption methods. Does anyone else besides me think that terrorists and criminals are aware of those applications and will use them instead of a now very unsafe and insecure iPhone or Android phone?
Now we’re back to Whack-a-Mole. Assume that governments the world over prohibit encrypted applications from being sold or downloaded to computers and smartphones because terrorists and criminals. Legal issues aside, does anyone not believe that impossible-to-break encryption apps will show up anyway? Terrorist and criminals may be misguided but they’re not stupid. Whatever the governments of the world do to whack one mole, a mole shows up somewhere else. It’s a game that governments cannot win, but if governments and authorities have their way on this issue, we lose.
Seriously, it is exactly that simple.
After encryption of any kind is banned throughout the world we’re left with terrorists and criminals who simply will ‘roll their own‘ encryption– something that is already being done– to avoid incriminating themselves, while every law abiding citizen with an iPhone remains even less secure.
Apple may yet win this issue. Hopefully sane minds will overcome the noise and emotion rampaging through the streets of public opinion. If so, Apple wins, you and I win, but so do terrorists and criminals. If not, Apple loses, you and I lose, but terrorists and criminals will win anyway.