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Apple, The FBI, and Individual Private Property Rights

Apple, the FBI, and Individual Private Property Rights

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc. wrote a letter to all Apple customers. It was one of the best letters in modern times I have read regarding individual private property rights.  You can read the letter by clicking here.

Private property rights are one of the rights of a society which honors liberty. There are very few countries even today who honor private property rights. It is one of the things that made our nation unique and created so much prosperity.

Most of us take our right to private property for granted. A part of private property is privacy. Privacy is something we hold dear. We like our privacy. We also tend in most instances to honor the privacy of others.

I commend Tim Cook of Apple for taking the stand against this unprecedented demand by the U.S. government to force a private company to create a back door in order to break into a phone.

Among those who are coming to the support of Apple in this case are: Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Airbnb, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twellio, Ebay, AT&T  and many others, the list is long, and several trade groups like the Consumer Technology Association and others. You do know that Google and Apple are not exactly friends. However, we must all stand together to protect our individual rights.

The reasons this has everything to do with your privacy is as follows:

  1. Encryption is highly important to security. It is your personal security we are talking about. You store your photos, your personal information and now the Apple pay encrypted chip, and many other personal details on your smart phone.  The reason we have encryption is to protect our data from hackers, thieves, bad guys and anyone else we don't want messing in our business. Apple has always been at the forefront of protecting their customers with security for their data so much so that Apple does not even have access to your data.  They believe the content on your iPhone is not any of their business. They are correct.
  2. The FBI asked Apple for help. Apple helped in every way they could.  Apple even had their engineers available to help the FBI.  One of the FBI agents  tried to reset the password to the terrorist's phone and then got totally locked out. Apple can not get them back in.
  3. The FBI is requesting Apple to create a “back door” to the phone. This type of software does NOT even exist today. And thank goodness it does not exist. This could and most likely would get into the wrong hands. After all, how many times has information been in the wrong hands that was supposed to be secure? This is what Tim Cook said about this: “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.” I certainly don't trust that it would only be used one time. It will be one time, then another time, and another…
  4. The government is saying that Apple can create the back door for just one phone. That is not true. Once a back door is created, you open a pandora's box. This would be just the tip of what could possibly happen in the future. It would be like “making a master key” that would open every door to every bank, restaurant, office building. Do you really want someone having the master key to your private data on your phone?
  5. Now, usually in these kinds of cases where the FBI is not getting what they want, the normal channel would be to go through congress to try to get something passed to force Apple to do something they are refusing to do. But that is not what is happening in this situation, The FBI is trying to use an very antiquated law, the All Writs Act of  1789 to force Apple into compliance.  Well, there were no computers in those days, no iPhones, no phones! The All Writs Act was created 50 years before the telegraph was invented and nearly 100 years before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone! Now the government wants to use this old writ to force a company to do what they want it to do.

This is what Tim Cook says about this forcing: “The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

This is an overreach by the U.S. Government. Using “national security” as a reason or excuse to invade your personal space does not make it ethical or right.

Tim says it better than I could say it:  “While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Now Apple is tied up in Congressional hearings over this matte and going to court again.  The majority of Congressmen and women are really not that well trained in encryption data and security. All of the techie companies that do know about encryption and keeping our data protected and private have ALL warned against the creation of a back door.

Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association  said the tech sector is very united in this case because the” FBI wants Apple to create weaker software or introduce “malware” to be able to crack the locked iPhone.”

He continued:

“…to give law enforcement access, Congress could in theory mandate that devices use automatic cloud backups that could not be disabled. But that would constitute a dramatic departure from current views about privacy.

“From an individual rights standpoint,” he said, “that would take away control by the user of their personal information.”

Briefs from:

From Airbnb, Atlassian, Automattic, CloudFlare, eBay, GitHub, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Mapbox, Medium, Meetup, Reddit, Square, Squarespace, Twilio, Twitter and Wickr:

Dangerous precedent. “The government's demand here, at its core, is unbound by any legal limits. It would set a dangerous precedent, in which the government could sidestep established legal procedures authorized by thorough, nuanced statutes to obtain users' data in ways not contemplated by lawmakers.”

More important than ever. “The unprecedented scale of digital information used, stored and communicated on the Internet means that ‘privacy,' which ‘has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception,' is “needed now more than ever.”

And from:

From Amazon, Box, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Pinterest, Slack, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Yahoo:

Outdated rules. “The government seeks a dramatic extension of New York Telephone (a 1977 Supreme Court case) to cover ever-evolving technologies…It is dangerous to extend that limited endorsement of judicial power over third parties to situations the Supreme Court never could have envisioned.”

Not just one hack. “The government's motion reassures the court and the public that the request here is a one-time-only hack. But there are already strong indications that law enforcement will ask for broad authority under the All Writs Act on facts far different from the terrorism investigation at hand.”

A most personal device. “Cell phones are the way we organize and remember the things that are important to us; they are, in a very real way, an extension of our memories. And as a result, to access someone's cell phone is to access their innermost thoughts and their most private affairs.”

And from:

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 46 technologies, researchers and cryptographers:

Conflict of expression. “The Order is unconstitutional because it compels Apple to express itself in conflict with its stated beliefs. The Order forces Apple to say something it does not want to say and that it believes is ‘dangerous.' It then forces Apple to endorse code it does not want to endorse and thereby undermine the trust it has established in its digital signature.”

This is a serious matter before us. While most people are being entertained by the politics of the day, this hearing is going on. This is a very important hearing and we should be paying attention to it. When rivals in the technology come together and even file briefs in behalf of Apple or any company put in this position, we should be paying attention.

The government has no right to force any private company to create something for them.  The All Writs Act also does not put forth the right for government to do this either.

Twitter and Ebay wrote this in their brief:

The All Writs Act does not authorize the government to make an end-run around this important public debate and our nation’s legislative processes… This extraordinary and unprecedented effort to compel a private company to become the government’s investigative arm not only has no legal basis under the All Writs Act or any other law, but threatens the core principles of privacy, security, and transparency that underlie the fabric of the Internet.

You can write letters or email your congressional leaders about your interest in this case and why.

Apple and the FBI appear in court again on March 22, 2016.  Let Apple know you support them if you do.