Don’t get me wrong -- Apple isn’t particularly more evil than a lot of other tyrannical behemoths; it has a lot of competition in that department. But with the news of the iPhone6 with i0S8 offering semi-unbreakable encryption with no law-enforcement back door, it has brazenly allied itself with criminals.
Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey. At a news conference on Thursday devoted largely to combating terror threats from the Islamic State, Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law.”
He cited kidnapping cases, in which exploiting the contents of a seized phone could lead to finding a victim, and predicted there would be moments when parents would come to him “with tears in their eyes, look at me and say, ‘What do you mean you can’t’ ” decode the contents of a phone.
“The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.”
Apple declined to comment. But officials inside the intelligence agencies, while letting the F.B.I. make the public protests, say they fear the company’s move is the first of several new technologies that are clearly designed to defeat not only the N.S.A., but also any court orders to turn over information to intelligence agencies. They liken Apple’s move to the early days of Swiss banking, when secret accounts were set up precisely to allow national laws to be evaded.
If that kidnapping scenario should come to pass (and that is not in the least far-fetched; we’re in the middle of one right now in Charlottesville), and someone dies because of Apple’s giving the finger to law enforcement, they will be in the position of Dr Strangelove, whose very clever Doomsday Machine had unanticipated consequences. Only, these are easy to anticipate. Felony accomplice before the fact? Apple execs in handcuffs, or assaulted by an enraged mob?
(Justy to clarify, in case it isn’t obvious: It’s fine that everything on the phone is encrypted, bravo; fine that a court order should be required to obtain the keys to unlock the encryption. What is not fine, is that the keys should nowhere exist.)
To get hold of a perp’s cell, you usually have to catch the perp; and that cuts down on the number of times a “ticking bomb” scenario could arise. But there are plenty of possible scenarios in which law enforcement would have a legitimate reason to access the contents of a cellphone, even one that did not belong to the criminals or their accomplices.
Thus, to stray no farther than the University of Virginia case already mentioned. …[To be continued]
For some schadenfreude:
For Cato the Elder’s take on other evil Apple antics:
[Disclosure: Writing this on a Mac … ]