Discover more from Kevin McKenzie
None of the Presidential Candidates Believe You Have a Right to Privacy
Apple CEO Tim Cook released a letter to all of Apple's customers explaining that the FBI is demanding that Apple create a separate version of their iPhone operating system, iOS, to allow them to hack into the alleged San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone.
Tim Cook is refusing to cooperate because he claims that doing so would create a backdoor into every single person's iPhone and make everyone's data less secure as a result.
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.
The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
In other words, if Apple does this for this one specific instance there would be no way to stop it from being used against innocent people. As the disclosures by Edward Snowden prove we can't even take the U.S. government at their word that they only want this tool for limited uses. The government has been spying on all of us for years collecting all of our metadata in massive databases. Creating a version of iOS that would allow them direct access to all of the data on our iPhones would absolutely be exploited by the government with zero oversight, not to mention illicit third parties. How long would it take for this to be used to hack the phone of some starlet to gain access to her personal photos?
So where do all of our wonderful statesmen running for President stand in this situation? Whatever they may say about their respect for the Constitution, they all believe in the supremacy of the government over the individual.
The loudest of the mountebanks is naturally Donald Trump, who is calling for a boycott of Apple because of their refusal to cooperate. He also appears to have switched from an iPhone to an Android. Nobody would expect much less from Trump, however, whose policy positions seem to be formed on an ad hoc basis rather than being based on any type of principle. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, claims to be a strict-constitutionalist, and yet he favors the government unconstitutionally having the power to access the data on anybody's iPhone. From the CNN Presidential Candidate Town Hall:
So I think Apple has the right side on the global don’t make us do this to every iPhone on the market. But I think law enforcement has the better argument, this concerns the phone of one of the San Bernardino hackers. And for law enforcement to get a judicial search order, that’s consistent with the Fourth Amendment. That’s how the Bill of Rights operates, to say Apple, open this phone, not Anderson’s phone, not everyone’s here, open this phone.
Cruz seems to misunderstand the situation by implying, despite the historical record of this government on privacy and it's abuse of the law in collecting people's data, that it's not only possible but probable that the government, with no oversight, is going to restrict the way it uses this power, and that it wouldn't be exploited by anybody else.
As for the Democrats, neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders wants to come right out and say it, but they both want the FBI to be able to hack into your phone. Sanders states, "I think there is a middle ground that can be reached," and Clinton says, "As smart as we are, there’s got to be some way on a very specific basis we could try to help get information around crimes and terrorism."
They're both playing the same game that Cruz is in stating that this power will or even can be limited in any way. The Intercept's Jenna McLaughlin is right when she says, "Technologists refer to this as the “magic pony” solution." The idea that only the U.S. government would have access to this backdoor and that they wouldn't abuse it is either naive or an outright lie. In the case of these politicians I'd put all of my money on the latter.
So if you're concerned about privacy rights then it's clear that you have no champions among the current crop of useless candidates, in which case your only option may be a third-party candidate like Gary Johnson. Regardless, the Democrats and Republicans all want to be able to get into your phone and should be disqualified from consideration as a result.
As an aside, Edward Snowden is absolutely right that the U.S. government getting this backdoor would make American tech companies less competitive around the world, just as we saw in the wake of his disclosures.
You would think that Republicans at least, who claim to be for capitalism and the free market, would be opposed to hamstringing American entrepreneurs, but then you'd have to actually believe them which would be absurd.