Just between you and me and those trying to sell the bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan, I think it’s worthwhile to cast a skeptical, cautious eye toward anyone who claims to be doing something for your own good.
That brings me to Big Brother. The Big Brother we know beyond the television show is a fictional character from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four novel. What does that have to do with Apple, the government, and the two kinds of terrorists?
He Ain’t Heavy
Way back in 1984 Apple launched a television commercial in the Super Bowl. For a few decades it was considered one of the best commercials ever, and it placed Apple (and the Mac) exactly where Apple likes to be. Underdog giant slayer. Just weeks ago I opined that Apple had become a bit like Big Brother, though it’s obvious, in retrospect, that the company behaves more like Walt Disney, and has created a Disney-esque ecosystem with a billion or so happy customers, than it does an all knowing totalitarian entity (Your iPhone And The Apple Tax).
Apple depicted itself as the salvation for humankind, the only company that could liberate the mindless masses from the drab life of worship to a controlling, authoritarian utopia… Yes, 1984 was not like ‘1984’ but 2016 sure seems as if Apple has become that which it mocked and derided back in 1984.
It’s an election year and in the political season one is allowed to walk back missteps and misstatements, right?
Apple is not Big Brother. Apple is Walt Disney.
Both are controlling entities with vast empires; both somewhat totalitarian and authoritarian in nature. But one controls with fear, while the other controls with pleasure. One demands adherence. The other gives you choice. You can figure out which one.
Let me state that I see a world divided into two basic groups. Those who want to control you (government, boss, teacher, spouse, corporations, terrorists), and those who do not. Like Walt Disney, Apple wants to control your experience when using the company’s growing array of technology gadgets that bring delight and benefit to humankind.
Yet, here we are today, a time in which governments around the world still attempt to exercise control– often, authoritarian control– over the masses. Here in the U.S., the autocratic conservative side says people need less government intervention, yet those same government officials wish to know what is on your iPhone, and desire to control women’s reproductive rights, and, well, you get the idea. Those same Big Brother entities flout the constitution as their basis for their control, yet dismiss the constitution and the Supreme Court whenever it rules against their desires. That’s the side of fear and control, the side that will use any means possible to exercise authoritarianism and control upon the masses.
Where does Apple stand?
If the government is a Big Brother to its citizens, and I think that has become the case, then Apple is the technology version of the lone protester standing in front of an armored military tank in China’s Tiananmen Square, willing to take a massive personal risk to stop a totalitarian foe in its tracks. Literally.
The analogy is appropriate, and while we can argue that Apple, as a company, is far too controlling for some of us, consider the alternatives. Apple’s defiance of a government request and court order is that lone protester standing up for the rights of citizens everywhere, whether they agree with the protest or not.
Apple is not Big Brother. That should be obvious. Apple is fighting against Big Brother. That should be obvious, too.
What is interesting in this whole debacle is the variety of responses to Apple’s actions (an inactions). Many technology companies decry the government’s attack on privacy, yet Google’s CEO had a tepid response to a serious issue of human rights and government intervention. Why? Because Google profits from taking your personal and private information and selling it to the highest bidder. Others assail, in public, and reminiscent of the Salem witch hunts, any and all those who choose freedom over tyranny.
One of the country’s founding fathers was a brilliant and imperfect man. Based upon just a few quotations, where would Thomas Jefferson stand on the issue confronting Apple today?
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Where do you stand?