Yes, unhackable is a word. I looked it up. And it means exactly what you think it means. Unhackable is a computer term which means “not hackable” or, in the alternative, that which “cannot be hacked or broken into.” Your iPhone is not unhackable. Yet.
Technology and the laws have changed through the years. Encryption was once considered munitions, restricted by the government and various laws, and therefore not available for common man. Today, we live in a world gone amok and some of that is due to encryption being made legal and in popular use among citizens. Governments want access to encrypted devices. Technology companies like Apple Inc. are working diligently to create unhackable devices.
Who will win?
Enter The Lawmakers
Encryption has reached a state already where it is close to impossible– but not completely impossible— for government agencies to crack. Apple’s iPhone is the device front and center in the public square thanks to its use by terrorists and an eager government agency which searches for grounds to compel Apple to help crack security measures to gain access to the device (and many others; this is not just about the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone).
There’s a race going on to set a legal precedent whereby no government agency can compel a technology company; or compel anyone to unlock an encrypted device. The other side wants to tilt the status quo in favor of authorities so that every encrypted device can be accessed with legal and technical means, and companies like Apple would not be able to sell fully encrypted iPhones.
Word on the proverbial streets says Apple’s engineers are working diligently to lock down the iPhone even more and make it impervious to hackers or government intrusion under any circumstances, thereby thwarting legal and technical means from gaining access to anything stored on your iPhone.
Here’s the problem with an unhackable iPhone.
First, it would make the iPhone the device of choice for terrorists and criminals who would be able to store information which cannot be used to incriminate them. That would put Apple on the dark side of humanity.
Second, there’s the issue of how far society must go so that the needs of the many do not completely outweigh the needs of the few. Does that sound familiar?
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
—Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Spock seems to indicate that the needs of the many– government surveillance and tracking of terrorists and criminals– would outweigh the needs of the few; a person’s personal information, stored, encrypted and unavailable to authorities, on an iPhone. Plausible, but not an accurate argument.
None other than conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued the opposite of Spock.
There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all
Hello? Even from the grave Scalia’s constitutional argument falls in Apple’s favor vs. the F.B.I. The needs of the many do not completely outweigh the needs of the few.
Now, think of this situation which is boiling to a fever pitch in 2016 (it’s Friday, double mixed metaphors for the price of one with the free add-on of reductio ad absurdum, because Friday) where the government wants to compel Apple to unlock a locked iPhone. The F.B.I. wants the iPhone’s information because it may help identify other terrorists and plots. Such events have killed dozens in the U.S. in the past few years, some of which may have been prevented had the government been given more sweeping rights of surveillance.
Yet, in 2015 alone, more than 30,000 people died in automobile accidents, and nearly 13,000 people were killed by guns. Meanwhile, the government goes to extreme measures to track down a far smaller number of terrorists and criminals who do far less damage to the population at large than cars or guns.
This isn’t an issue of ‘Where’s the justice?‘ It’s more of an issue of ‘Where’s common sense?‘ Don’t we have much larger issues to solve than opening up a closed iPhone?