Apple vs. the Government: Security and Privacy overlap

Apple is right to object to the government’s request to help open an iPhone.  Many claim it is an issue of balance between Security and Privacy. Perhaps. Yet, the Constitution talks of the the right of the people to be Secure in their effects.

To all those voices discussing this issue, we add:

  • These same agencies spied illegally on the staff of the congressional committee whose job was oversight of those same agencies.
  • Employees of these same agencies used their illegal powers to spy on ex-wives etc.
  • Security in these same agencies is such that a young contractor could access and download unlimited highly classified documents, i.e. Ed Snowden.
  • Cracking “just one phone” and destroying the program thereafter is a myth.  It would be impossible to prove that all copies of the software were destroyed, that some low-level (or high-level) Apple or government employee did not keep copies of the code, or knew enough to recreate it.

While we applaud Apple’s efforts to make it impossible to crack new iPhones, such claims, in our view, are mythical:

  • Nobody, even Apple, can guarantee that any complex software is free of bugs, that could open a back door.
  • Nobody, even Apple, can guarantee an intentional back door was not added by an employee or contractor.
  • Nobody can be sure that the software and firmware actually present on your smartphone matches the software version created by the manufacturer.
  • Software or firmware could be specially installed with a backdoor or to create a “man in the middle attack”, with an interface between your screen and the expected smartphone software.
  • My iPhone, like most comes from a third party. In my case AT&T, which does not support Apple’s position.  What would AT&T do when the government next asks for their help?  What would a low level employee – a dedicated “patriot” – do?

For more details and opinions on the controversy, see Dan Wallach’s comments at Freedom To Tinker: Apple, the FBI, and the San Bernadino iPhone <read>

And Jenna McLaughlin at the Intercept Apple Slams Order to Hack a Killer’s iPhone, Inflaming Encryption Debate <read>

 

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