FBI vs Privacy

You might think the title of this post should be FBI vs Apple. Except that the real truth is that it’s really about the FBI vs Privacy. Whose privacy? yours, mine or anyone else with a mobile device. The story has been all over the place so I’m sure most people must know that the FBI is demanding Apple do what amounts to building a backdoor or master key to unlock iPhones. There is an online petition requesting that the government step in and stop the FBI. What I’m surprised at is that there aren’t more signatures in that petition. Are you a celebrity with an Apple device, an American with an Apple device, Apple board of directors member, Apple employee or just an American period, then why haven’t you signed it? What does it mean to be American? It seems to be changing and you might want to ask your president or senator about that right now. You might also think that the FBI is only making the request of Apple but make no mistake if what they are asking for is complied with next will be Android and who after that?

If you don’t learn from history then you’re doomed to repeat it. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These are popular sayings that apply to this scenario. There is so much going on here it baffles me that the FBI is even allowed to make this request. The whole argument of “if you have nothing to hide then it’s not a problem”, is the most ridiculous argument anyone could ever bring up. If that is the case then I guess everyone is ok with their emails, notes, calendar events, snapchat/facebook/text messages and those nude pictures you send to your spouse or significant other being fully accessible to the FBI or any other government employee who wants to look? These are not things to hide and privacy doesn’t mean things that need to be hidden. Now the FBI are not a bunch of morons. There are highly capable and also highly technical agents so the fact that they are making this request is actually a thinly veiled attempt at something more. If this were only about getting into this particular iPhone the FBI would have already taken up John McAfee on his offer. What they are really after is the legal precedent that will be set paving the way for all the future requests.

All the surveillance of the government agencies and still they haven’t been able to stop all terrorist attacks. The attacks just provide a way of scaring people into giving up their privacy while supporting those who take it. The problem is that all FBI agents are human. The human element guarantees that there will be misuse of whatever power is afforded to them. There must be agents who are drug addicts, alcoholics, abuse their spouse/lover, or are dirty. It’s not just in the movies with nearly 35,000 employed there is no way that every single agent is a beacon of trustworthiness. This is not just one request of Apple for a special case either. Once it’s complied with a precedent will be set. The FBI will soon claim that a request process will be in place and followed. Where it will go from there is anyone’s guess. The DOJ and law enforcement have already said there are cases where they are preparing to have Apple unlock iPhones based on the outcome of this case. Well there goes the idea that this is a one off request under special circumstances.

The Deepweb exists and the FBI is fully aware of it. Anyone that thinks whatever is developed will not end up there and for sale to anyone is simply deluded. Jailbreaks and rooting will become a thing of the past. There is a certain trust that is involved in using the tools and downloaded mobile OS. Once this altered OS is created can you trust any OS that is online for download?

As one of the most successful American companies it’s kind of odd that the FBI would put Apple in such a position. If Apple does relent to their request it will have a huge impact on their business. I have an iPhone, Apple Watch, MacBook Pro and iPad Mini. If I feel that my privacy is at risk on iOS devices it will change my habits. It is inconvenient but I will not keep my pictures, notes, messages, websites, password manager or personal emails on the devices. It is not because I have anything to hide but simply because i wont know who could have access to it. Other people will simply stop using or buying Apple products. Yet another thing that baffles me about this whole thing. Mobile phones as much as anyone wants to think are not a neccessity. Air, water, shelter these are necessities. Things that we as humans can’t live without. The FBI can beat their chest and make demands but at some point when pushed too far people will just stop using the devices.

The threat of terrorism is very real. It is possible anywhere in the world. Anyone that says until it happens to you, you don’t understand, well that’s just bullshit. Do I feel safe every time I take a plane, on my train commute or even walking down the street? It can happen anywhere and that is what scares people. But there are a multitude of things that can happen just by stepping out of your home each day. If you become paralysed by that fear then living life becomes a very hard thing. Terrorism is recorded in history as early as 1798 and make no mistake whatever the result of this case it will still exist. Although the FBI might try to make us feel that this will help them eliminate terrorism. It wont!

I also read that the families of the San Bernadino victims are joining the FBI in support. North America is such a society of bleeding hearts. Yes I feel sad for the senseless loss of life. However does anyone know how many people are killed due to gang violence? Drunk drivers in 2013 killed 10,076 people in alcohol related car accidents. While distracted drivers kill 9 people a day! Where are all the bleeding hearts for these victims and their families? Where is the FBI and the DOJ’s presence in trying to eliminate these problems? Where is @BarackObama or @HillaryClinton saying drunk driving or distracted driving should not be the norm? These cases are not in the headlines or in the fears of people right now so it’s not important. You might think I don’t feel for the victims or their families because I’m not a victim of terrorism. Well I’m the victim of a drunk driver do you or anyone else feel empathy for me?

I’ve heard of users on social media making death threats to and accusing anyone in support of Apple’s stance with siding with terrorists. What happened to the bleeding hearts? I guess they have turned into raging hearts. Before you rage out stop and think for a minute what information you are willing to give up? You have nothing to hide right. Well just imagine a hacker who knows what time you’re at work every day, where your spouse works, where you live and can see your pictures of your kids. They know when is best to break into your home, they are able to approach your children and convince them that they are an old friend of dad. This has nothing to do about hiding information or protecting terrorists. It is about keeping our privacy private and not providing those out there with the power to get at it. In the always connected world of today those who control the bits and bytes are really the ones with power. Do you trust your government, the FBI, your senators with that power? Yet you are willing to support them in giving away more of your privacy. You can send me death threats over social media. Now try sending a death threat over social media to an FBI agent and see what kind of response you get. Now think to yourself who do they answer to? You and I answer to the law but who holds these agents accountable? Most importantly remember once you give away your privacy you can’t get it back.

My final thought is what happens when the phone is unlocked if there is no useful information on it? There are many mistakes throughout history that can be traced back to a well meaning idea. The most important thing that I also don’t see being mentioned. What happens when the same terrorists that we are fighting against get ahold of and use this tool to access data? Also if the method developed is used by hackers or some other nefarious person to get into devices. Is the FBI or DOJ liable for their part in the creation of the tools? Will they even admit guilt or will it just become fingers pointing at Apple while customers scream and yell asking why the tools were developed in the first place?