Color me paranoid but Apple’s battle with the F.B.I. and other authoritarian forces, combined with the growing Internet of Things, isn’t going to end well for us. Thankfully, privacy and personal security have become mainstream topics, so there’s still hope; but not much. Here’s why.
Wars of the past were fought, won, and ended. Today, terrorism is a war without end, and that means warmongers and freedom fighters will never rest ever. Not because they win or lose. But because the war itself never ends, and that means a never ending war against all of us by authoritarian leaders and organizations (F.B.I., I’m looking at you).
What Of The Paranoid?
They say that only the paranoid survive. If so, humankind is in no danger of extinction because so many of us truly are paranoid about the forces we’ve created to monitor the world and defend us; even defend us from ourselves. Besides, if everyone is out to get you, paranoia is the right attitude to have.
What does all this fear and paranoia have to do with Apple, privacy, security, and the Internet of Things? As it turns out, they’re all quite related, intertwined, and unless Apple can win a few more battles and take control of the war, I fear none of it will end well for us.
Thanks to terrorists, criminals, hackers and those who recognize the value of a well designed communication device which cannot easily be opened by those with an over abundance of the authoritarian gene, Apple’s iPhone is front and center in the public eye and in the F.B.I.’s crosshairs as a target that must be brought down regardless of the expense, tactic, or facts; because that’s what authoritarian government officials do.
It’s the iPhone and Apple’s penchant for selling security as a feature. No password. No fingerprint. No access. And those extra layers of security that Apple builds into an iPhone have governments up in arms because Apple’s popular device has become the smartphone of choice– not for citizens who don’t want anyone else to view personal information– of terrorists, criminals, and hackers who don’t want the government or authorities to view their personally incriminating information.
Part Of The Problem
Apple and the iPhone is only part of the problem that those of us with enough paranoia genes see as a future that may not end well. Fear is a massive driver for authoritarians but also of the paranoid and that brings me to the other side of Apple’s battle with the Dark Side. Technology. Specifically, the so-called Internet of Things where everything is connected, which means it’s all accessible– to us, to government officials and authoritarians everywhere, but also to terrorists, criminals, and hackers.
What could go wrong? There are so many places to begin.
Bad Medicine – Go to any hospital and you’ll see patients hooked up to wires, feeding tubes, medicine tubes, sensors, and more electronics than are now available for Apple’s HomeKit or HealthKit. Many of those are connected to hospital networks which are connected to the internet, ipso facto and Voila! A hackers paradise for ransomware. If Dick Cheney had a heart, a human heart, it could be stopped by an attacker (or, good citizen, depending upon your political persuasion) over Wi-Fi.
Airplane 2016 – How long before terrorists realize there’s an easier way to blow up an airplane? Simply hack into the flying albatross via the plane’s Wi-Fi system, take control, and fly the plane into the nearest skyscraper, or Jennifer Coolidge. Either would be a headline for history.
Car 54 Where R U? – Google, Apple, and most respectable automobile companies are working on self-driving, mostly autonomous cars because that’s the future (except for Chrysler, where electronics is still 20th century and the CEO wants somebody, anybody, to buy the company). Humans should not be allowed to drive. Machines are better. Skynet. Soylent Green. It’s one thing to have a valet park your car while out for dinner or an event, but it’s something else again to have your car stolen because it’s connected to the internet which somehow connects to hackers and criminals who could steal your car and have it drive itself to the thief or chop shop. Remember, the internet always knows where you are so those who control the internet control you. It’s a fact.
I look to Apple for hope against totalitarian and authoritarian government overreach, but I fear the worst. Apple may win a battle or two, but can it possibly win the war when there are so many governments desirous of doing what the F.B.I. wants to do and much worse? Then, once everything is connected to the internet how safe are we really? Even if Apple manages to keep us safe from the governments of the world, how will governments of the world keep citizens safe from terrorists, criminals, and hackers who would harm us, steal from us, and spy on us by breaking into our televisions, smartwatches, GPS devices, pacemakers, hospital rooms, cars, and anything else that monitors us, our homes, our workplace, and everything else except our thoughts, and if artificial intelligence is real, couldn’t IBM just use Watson to figure out what our thoughts are by playing the 20 questions game?
This isn’t going to end well.