Apple has won the first battle in the war against the unelected federales from the good old U.S. of A. but I have this feeling that the company’s security and privacy problems have just begun.
The cat is out of the bag. The beans have been spilled. The game is up. The jig is up. The bubble has burst. The honeymoon is over. The floodgates are open. The proverbial $#!T has hit the fan. Everyone in every government everywhere wants a piece of Apple’s hide (pun intended) and we’ll all be the poorer for it. How so? I blame it all on the French.
Après moi, le déluge
In recent years the French have made great strides in cyber-security and have paid a price by attacking and blocking terrorist activities online. Good for them. If you can’t beat ’em on land, beat ’em online, right?
Here’s the latest. A U.S. federal judge has denied the government’s request to open an iPhone in a drug case in New York (not the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone) which gives a boost to Apple’s pro-privacy position. Judge James Orenstein:
After reviewing the facts in the record and the parties’ arguments, I conclude that none of those factors justifies imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will. I therefore deny the motion.
That ruling likely will have an impact on that other All Writs Act case with Apple vs. the F.B.I. But no matter. The floodgates will not go quietly into that good night, for something wicked this way comes. Again. It’s the French.
A French government official wants Apple to provide a backdoor to the iPhone. No backdoor, meet big fines.
The F.B.I. and the French government might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Apple’s biggest problem. If Apple loses the war and the attack on personal privacy and security anywhere, then it loses everywhere. We lose because governments everywhere will force the issue upon Apple, and then be able to access our personal information anytime they choose.
Meanwhile, terrorists and criminals will still use iPhones but simply resort to uncrackable and encrypted applications for file storage and private communications and the government will be back where it started. Terrorists and criminals will have security. But iPhone owners will not.
If you’ve been reading Mac360 since our inception back in the early part of the century you’ll know that I’m more of a big picture person and don’t get my jewelry or hair caught in the digital minutiae of the technical details. But I think there might be a simple solution to this privacy and security issue.
You see, Apple has locked down the iPhone itself. The whole shebang. Inside the iPhone are apps which are easily accessible to anyone who gets access to the iPhone via password, right? No password? No can crack iPhone.
I have two ideas.
#1 – App Lock: Apple could encrypt every application and all files individually in such a way that if a backdoor to unlock the iPhone is used, the app lock is invoked and applications will not open and therefore cannot be used. Something similar to that is already in use with Touch ID. Some apps won’t open without the password (which could be different) or Touch ID. Not a bad idea, right? Just make the lock universal (or, app by app).
#2 – Open Source Lock: Apple could sell every iPhone with no privacy and security, or, in the alternative, with privacy and security as exists now, but with available backdoor access for authorities. And, Apple could open source a software lock utility which could be downloaded and installed on the iPhone which would then prevent anyone from using the iPhone without the password.
See? I’m not exactly the Queen of Technology (I met her at Comic-Con once; she seemed nice; tall, nice nails, but unexpectedly boring) but there have to be ways around Apple’s current dilemma and the growing firestorm and open floodgates that are about to engulf the company and a few hundred million iPhone customers.
Smart crooks and terrorists will always find a way to stay ahead of the technology game. The stupid ones will not, and they’re the ones who will get caught in the dragnet if Apple loses this technology and legal brouhaha.