What will the iPhone be in the future relative to today’s iPhone? Will the iPhone be private and secure enclave for personal information? Or will it become just a handheld computer and phone completely devoid of any privacy capability or security features? I fear the latter. So does Apple.
The Spy In Your Hand
Apple’s executives have become somewhat more chatty under the reign of Tim Cook. The public relations machine works and it’s visible in public with top execs going online and doing interviews on television.
Why? Why the change of heart? First, Steve jobs is gone. Tim cook is in charge. Second, times have changed. Apple is embroiled in battles on many fronts; from competition to governments. The iPhone we know and love today faces a fork in the road and Apple may not be in control of which direction the device goes next.
Will governments allow the iPhone to become a warrantless territory much like your mind? Will all the political bickering and posturing go away once politicians realize that terrorists, criminals, and hackers will simply move to completely uncrackable, unhackable encrypted applications should the governments force Apple to open a backdoor to the iPhone?
Uh, no. My view is that this whole mess will get a whole lot worse and that’s because of what Apple built into the iPhone.
Today’s iPhone is a handheld supercomputer (at least, as they were powered not that many years ago) with capabilities that go far beyond what anyone expected of a Palm Treo just a decade ago. There is a tremendous amount of computing power and usability that we take for granted. An iPhone can record a hit record, create a movie or television show (add some taste and experience, a few good microphones and the right apps and you’ll be surprised and impressed what comes out). What’s the danger in that?
The iPhone has a camera and a microphone.
That means you can record movies, take photos, and record sound. So can the government. If and when Apple loses this war over privacy and security, and the backdoors are installed behind what we think is strong encryption, what will prevent unscrupulous governments– which is to say all of them— from hacking into your iPhone and recording audio and video of anything they want?
The technology already exists for that to happen. So does the will of government officials who now spend more of their time tracking citizens to save them from attacks and crimes than they do tracking the attackers and criminals. It seems the government cannot tell the difference, but once they have complete access to your iPhone’s camera and microphone they will have all the tracking capability they want and need to complete their mission to save us from ourselves.
Thanks to Murphy’s Law, it could happen. Nevil Makelyne in 1908:
It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
If you don’t think government officials are so stupid as to unleash unbridled spying on its citizens, let me remind you of Parkinson’s Law, an affliction of elected politicians and government officials who work diligently to justify their very existence.
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion
Or, put another way, the Law is a common reference to the self-satisfying uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus of an organization. That sounds like government to me. If there’s to be a backdoor into a device which has a video camera and a microphone how far are we from being tracked and spied upon by Big Brother, an anonymous entity using the very windows we provide?