Opinion written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling
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The San Bernardino terrorist killings brought the US Justice Department and Apple to loggerheads.
On one side was the FBI desperately trying to find out what was on the terrorists' iPhone for national security reasons.
On the other side was Apple refusing to give away what they thought were their trade secrets. They want the public to believe that they are the bastions of security, personal privacy and liberty. There are $$ in those words.
The FBI wanted access to one phone and Apple maintained this would be tantamount to an invasion of privacy for not just a terrorist, but the world. That's a little extreme, I thought. Yes, the FBI was invading the privacy of dead terrorists. That's a given. They were invading the privacy of anyone who communicated with the terrorists too.
I thought back to the code breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. I don't think they nor Churchill thought about the civil liberties of the Nazi U-Boat captains and Luftwaffe pilots.
There was something more here too. Apple has gone out of their way to myth spin their vaunted security. They hush up any breaches and there are breaches.
The government tried to get Apple to help in a quiet way, but Apple refused. So the government sued them. But, meanwhile the FBI set to work themselves along with mysterious consultants (maybe NSA) to break into the terrorist's phone and they succeeded!
I knew they would given some time.
They broke in and away they went without Apple. Oh, oh, where was our vaunted security mused the big wigs at Apple with their millionaire stock options? One wonders if the big wigs understand what they have or don't have.
This is a battle between public security and the public's right to privacy. It's an important issue and has been played out before without Apple complaining much.
Organized Crime has had to deal with wiretaps for many years. They have stopped using the phone and use iPhones. For phones, enforcement goes to a judge, presents evidence and the judge either okays or denies the application. Without wiretaps it would be hard to bring drug cartels and organized crime to justice. Should iPhones be different?
Some high tech companies have supported Apple's position. It's a high minded objective, but hard to explain to victims' relatives who have been blown up or gunned down.
Apple is couching their objections in liberty. They say they are being forced to give up their security secrets to the FBI.
I wonder if they let their technology people quit, take vacations, change companies and retire?
Obviously they should have a security system that does not require them to bump off their engineers or require them to be under lock and key. Is their security system so complicated that a human cannot not understand it? I doubt that.
What does this all show? It shows just how weak the vaunted security systems really are.
Even the Nazi's with their Enigma Machines were not so vulnerable. They could have added more rotors all the time and stopped using obvious introductions and sign offs that led to breaking in by the British. No, it was not all the code breakers' brilliance. It was Nazi carelessness too.
The Japanese at Midway, thinking their Naval code unbreakable, were lured into giving up their point of attack by repeating a single encrypted word after being lured into using it by the US code breakers.
Nope, Apple you have to do better. Work on a system that allows codes to be broken by lawful authorities and then immediately changed so we can win the war on terror and maintain privacy of ordinary citizens too. Let the courts be the judge under proper review. The high courts will weigh in for sure.
I think I know what Churchill would do.
Also, I think it would be a grand idea to just shut up about this whole subject. Some things and techniques are best left unsaid.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016