There’s just one reason why I do not aspire to live in an ivory tower. Everyone who climbs or fights their way to the top– whether business or government– loses their hearing and eyesight. That’s right, private and public sector executives become deaf and blind.
Here’s an example. The F.B.I. wants Apple to unlock iPhones. Not just the one from the San Bernadino terrorist, but all iPhones. They seem deaf and blind to the fact that terrorists, criminals, and hackers will still have access to encrypted apps, encrypted communications, and encrypted data that the government and authorities– and Apple– will not be able to access.
It get worse. Apple is deaf and blind, too.
Deaf And Blind Officials
President Obama and his newly minted Attorney General have come down in favor of the F.B.I. in the case against Apple, personal rights to privacy and security be damned.
This notion that somehow our data is different, and can be walled off from those other trade-offs we make, I believe is incorrect. You cannot take an absolutist view on this. The dangers are real.
Yes, the dangers are real. But which ones are we talking about? The dangers of government overreach which demands the right to search every citizen in the country anytime it pleases, or the rights of citizens to maintain privacy and security?
The president says we cannot have an absolutist view on this, yet that’s exactly what the F.B.I. and the government’s positions are. Absolutist. Yet, few in the government, specifically the F.B.I., and now the president, appear to understand that the encryption technology in question is binary. It either works and remains encrypted and secure, and it can be opened, unlocked, and does not provide security.
Government officials and authorities are deaf to the fact that terrorists, criminals, and hackers will simply move on to other forms of encrypted communications and data security that cannot be opened by the F.B.I. or anyone else.
Deaf And Blind Executives
Interestingly, Apple executives have some hearing and eyesight problems, too, but this has little to do with the encryption issue. Apple’s various app stores are broken and have been for years, yet the company’s various executives in charge somehow can’t figure out what’s wrong (and it’s not like users haven’t complained), or don’t know what to do to fix the issues if they know about them.
The most recent complaint had to do with broken App Store search algorithms and Apple’s odd approval policy as outlined by Ben Lovejoy. The new App Store honcho, longtime Apple executive Phil Schiller, promises a fix to a problem that has been ongoing for years. Search results suck.
It’s almost as if executives in charge of the App Store never actually use the App Store themselves. Search sucks. All too often even a search on the exact name of an app in the store yields knock offs or totally unrelated apps. It’s that way for Mac and iPhone app stores.
Apple execs Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi were interviewed online a few weeks ago and what I took from their comments is this. “We’re doing fine.” And, “Apple’s software has never been better.” That may actually be the case. Apple is doing fine. And software might be better than ever, but maybe how Apple counts and tracks software problems should be looked at because some of my Apple apps– Photos, iTunes, Mail, and the App Store, just to mention a few– are not better than ever; they’re problematic on an ongoing basis.
Obviously, government officials and law enforcement authorities do not bother to determine how terrorists, criminals, and hackers actually think, and assume that opening up an encrypted iPhone will make the nation and the world more secure. It won’t. Likewise, Apple executives may look at the pile of cash and their stock grants and options and determine that everything Apple does works well. It does not.
Climb to the top of an ivory tower near you and I’ll bet your eyesight dims and your hearing fades.