February 18, 2016

"If Apple is forced to open up an iPhone for an American law enforcement investigation, what’s to prevent it from doing so for a request from the Chinese or the Iranians?"

"If Apple is forced to write code that lets the F.B.I. get into the Phone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, the male attacker in the San Bernardino attack, who would be responsible if some hacker got hold of that code and broke into its other devices?"

98 comments:

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I haven't yet heard why the FBI can't just send the phone to Apple and have them unlock it.

I appreciate Apple standing firm on this.

MadisonMan said...

I assume other companies have been asked to do this as well. What has their response been?

I very much appreciate Apple's pro-privacy stance here.

David Begley said...

Because we are the good guys. China and Iran are not.

Both Apple and the Obama DOJ were idiots to make this dispute public. Should hsve cracked the one phone in private.

Rae said...

The FBI can't send the phone to Apple because it leaves their custody. And they can't trust what they find on the phone after that.

Larry J said...

If Apple is forced to build a back door to their encryption, there's no way that vulnerability would be limited to law enforcement or the intelligence community. As an analogy, what if the government required that the door locks on every home and business be accessible by a master key, for law enforcement only, of course. Once criminals manage to duplicate the master key, they could open any door. The same thing will (when, not if) happen if there's a mandated back door to encryption. Hackers and/or government cyber operations will eventually find that back door and will be able to exploit it.

Various government agencies and law enforcement are already using Stingray devices to intercept cell phone calls without a warrant. What makes anyone believe they'd always obtain warrants before exploiting a cyber back door?

traditionalguy said...

The real test here should be whether Tim Cook can get Apple to break the codes that open his cell door lock in the solitary wing at USP Leavenworth.

Assisting our War on Islamic Terror Jihadists is not optional.

Hagar said...

A possible compromise is to let Apple "open the phone" and give the FBI a printout of what is in there.

Giving the FBI a "how to" is not acceptable because the government can't be trusted.
And the reason it can't be trusted is the James Rosen case where Eric Holder and his DoJ perjured themselves before a U.S. judge and then even openly admitted to the perjury without anything being done about it, thus sending a clear message that it is all right for Federal officers to lie in their official capacity - even to the extent of perjury - even when the purpose is just a partisan political favor to a sister agency.

If no further such cases happen, this may someday just be a painful memory, but it is going to take a few decades.

Hagar said...

And this is the damage that Barack Obama and Eric Holder has done to our political system.

Steve Uhr said...

If Apple wants public support it won't happen.

I also don't follow its reasoning. Seems that this question is not whether they have created a "back door" but whether they could do so. Since the answer appears to be yes, then the possibility of pressure from other nations to help with political prosecutions is already there regardless of the outcome of this case. If they didn't want to be in this situation they should have designed the software so that it would be impossible to do what the FBI wants. Could they have done that?

tim in vermont said...

I use protonmail.ch The servers are in Switzerland. It's free. The mail is encrypted so even if somebody tried to force them to give it up, they couldn't. And they have an android app that doesn't keep track of my position like gmail does, and doesn't store mail on my phone.

Bobby said...

Dictatorships all over the world- Putin's Russia and China, in particular- are salivating over this drama, and hoping that the FBI wins. Ironically, blackhats and anti-government hackers are also praying for a FBI victory.

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

tim in vermont said...

Assisting our War on Islamic Terror Jihadists is not optional

I am more worried about a Soviet style, or East German style all powerful state, than I am about taking a few blows from the terrorists. Once the state gets that much power, and we have already seen the Obama administration use the IRS for partisan political purposes, there will be no escaping it. No overthrowing it, no free elections in any sense of the word.

I would rather fight the Jihadis and maybe die, than leave my children a distopia like the left has planned.

traditionalguy said...

When the next terrorists from the same Mosque terror base attack and kill Americans, a good trial lawyer will sue Apple for all 500 Billion Dollars they are hoarding.

There is nothing like the smell of punitive damages in the morning.

MisterBuddwing said...

"The FBI can't send the phone to Apple because it leaves their custody. And they can't trust what they find on the phone after that."

I understand that, but this wouldn't be for a trial.

Maybe if Apple did the work in the presence of the least technically savvy FBI agent in the country, whatever legal chain of custody involved would be preserved.

rhhardin said...

The government doesn't need it, so don't give it to them.

It's one crummy terrorist out of thousands of others unrelated to him.

rhhardin said...

NSA can still do traffic analysis, which is where the payoff is. They don't need the messages.

The connectivity graph gives them all the associates when they uncover one.

Except of course that they're not allowed to do that nowadays. Fix that.

Bobby said...

MisterBuddwing,

"Maybe if Apple did the work in the presence of the least technically savvy FBI agent in the country, whatever legal chain of custody involved would be preserved."

But that's not what the FBI wants. Comey has been pretty upfront about what he wants from the tech industry, and that kind of a one-off victory falls far short of the cooperation that he asserts the federal government needs from the tech industry in order to keep us safe. And there are a lot of Americans who are more than willing to trade away a little freedom for a little security, because they really are that scared.

MisterBuddwing said...

Bobby: I'm with Apple when it comes to the "skeleton key" issue.

But there should be a reasonable compromise.

LarsPorsena said...

If it was the Chinese, Tim Cook would do it in a heart beat.

AReasonableMan said...

Apple is on the side of the angels on this one.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Government cannot be trusted with possession of a universal unlocking key. I stand with Apple on this. Other than that, I have no dog in the fight; I do not, have not, nor plan to own any Apple product.

AReasonableMan said...

tim in vermont said...
I use protonmail.ch The servers are in Switzerland. It's free. The mail is encrypted so even if somebody tried to force them to give it up, they couldn't. And they have an android app that doesn't keep track of my position like gmail does, and doesn't store mail on my phone.


What are you trying to hide, brother? Based on this post alone I feel the Feds are justified in putting you under 24 hour surveillance.

LarsPorsena said...

Just about all the component parts for the IPhone are made in China. Do you really think Tim Cook would tell Xi Jinping to take a hike?

motorrad said...

Can the FBI force a bank to open a safe deposit box via subpoena? Isn't this the same thing?

I'm not a lawyer obviously but whose side is Apple on anyway?

Kristian Holvoet said...

I saw this elsewhere (in the comments of http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/02/tim-cook-says-apple-will-fight-us-govt-over-court-ordered-iphone-backdoor/?comments=1&start=0%29

"After reading Tim Cook's letter, I can't imagine any other reason why the FBI wants in the iPhone other than to set a precedent. They already have iCloud data, text messages, computers, and multiple flash drives from the shooters.

I figure the FBI is just using this case as a way to get support for the public for backdoors because there is nothing the data on the iPhone can tell the FBI that the FBI doesn't know already."

They are exploiting San Bernardino to get the camel's nose in the tent. They aren't using it to stop coyotes smuggling people into the US, they are using to stop the already dead terrorist.

Tari said...

Thank goodness Apple is taking this stance. The state of data privacy law between the US and the EU is a mess right now, and the US government isn't helping by making ridiculous requests like this. Data has to be able to flow freely between countries, and it won't if European countries think their citizens' data is going to wind up in the hands of the FBI every time they turn around. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the US government is trying to make it harder for US companies to do business; it certainly wouldn't be the first time.

Robert Cook said...

"Because we are the good guys. China and Iran are not."

Says who?

Robert Cook said...

"What makes anyone believe they'd always obtain warrants before exploiting a cyber back door?"

We KNOW they wouldn't. Snowden revealed years ago the unceasing spying by our intelligence agencies on ALL of our electronic communications. That spying has not stopped, and won't, despite its being a violation of the constitution.

As APPLE correctly states, this is just an excuse by the government to allow them unhindered access to every encrypted smart device in the world.

JSD said...

Given the jihadi nature of the crime and the resources of the FBI, I suspect that the government has already cracked the phone. But there are thousands of phones sitting is evidence rooms across the country waiting to be cracked. People have digitized their lives with these contraptions. Prosecutors won’t need to prove anything, the defendant has already testified against himself.

Robert Cook said...

"And this is the damage that Barack Obama and Eric Holder has done to our political system."

It hardly originates with them...they're just continuing long-standing policy. Anyone who thinks this has to do with this or that "bad" official or administration badly misunderstands the reality.

PB said...

Let's see if Apple stands up to this principle if faced with a ban on sales of the device.

Robert Cook said...

"I am more worried about a Soviet style, or East German style all powerful state, than I am about taking a few blows from the terrorists. Once the state gets that much power, and we have already seen the Obama administration use the IRS for partisan political purposes, there will be no escaping it. No overthrowing it, no free elections in any sense of the word.

"I would rather fight the Jihadis and maybe die, than leave my children a distopia like the left has planned."


It's already here, in "soft" form. Our elections are "free," but utterly meaningless and ineffectual. They're clownshows, the actors all grotesques, successful in their intent to distract us from our real state of affairs. It's not a plan of the "left," it is the reality erected by the corporate state. Our so-called representatives in Washington to not represent us or serve us; they serve the financial elites. We are now an oligarchy, and no longer a democracy.

mccullough said...

So Apple has the technology to unlock the phone. That means Russia and China and the CIA have it. Give the phone to the CIA; this is a security issue not a law enforcement issue.

oleh said...

If US courts can compel a witness to testify truthfully, what's to stop any petty tyrant from being able to do so! Absurd.

Courts have the incredible power right now, today, to compel people to give up the contents of their minds on the stand. Compelling Apple in assisting to unlock a phone is no more invasive than a subpoena duces tecum to a phone company. Once the implications of the pro-Apple stance are examined none but the most ardent anarchists would want to live in a world where these various invasive powers to compel did not exist.

But Apple is advertising and without thought people parrot their marketing materials.

Steve Uhr said...

It is hardly a "ridiculous" request. The names of the contacts should lead to even more terrorists. The FBI should do everything in its power to get the information. It is the job of the court to weigh the various interests.

Bobby said...

mccullough,

I believe Apple has maintained that the software the FBI requires does not even exist right now. It's not that they couldn't build the technology- their whitehats are intimately familiar with iOS security vulnerabilities and could almost certainly come up with something rather quickly- but I think they're saying it currently does not exist.

Howard said...

Robert Cook: If what you say and link to is true, and I believe we are heading there, then I expect you to be a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment.

MadisonMan said...

I'm not a lawyer obviously but whose side is Apple on anyway?

The side of privacy. The side of keeping the Government out of your life. The correct side.

MarkW said...

"Because we are the good guys. China and Iran are not."

Doesn't matter -- obviously, they don't see it that way. The Chinese government controls access to the (extremely lucrative) Chinese market. If the US government succeeds in forcing Apple to do this, Apple will have little choice but to give in if the Chinese government makes the same demand in the future.

YoungHegelian said...

Let me propose a different take on this, from a technical view.

The FBI is assuming that when Apple wrote the encryption software under iOS, they included a "back door". That may not be the case. Their engineers may have figured out that having any sort of back door would put Apple at risk around the world from being leaned on by governmental law enforcement. So, they solved the problem by not including one.

It may be impossible to crack iOS encryption by any method other than brute force, i.e. computer generating random passwords until one works. If Apple knows this, they may be pushing back against the Feds because they know that attempting to decrypt the data is a bottomless money pit. After all, when the Feds drop an obligation like this on a corporation, it's not like they pay them to do it. It all comes out of the corporation's bottom line.

motorrad said...

Madison Man, I'm a privacy guy too, but with everything moving to Phones and other devices, will there come a time very soon that everything is on your phone?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Does this now mean the state has no power to search your papers and effects (now essentially your phone)?

Kristian Holvoet said...

From the writ compelling Apple:

"While the order in this case requires Apple to provide modified software, modifying an operating system—writing software code is not an unreasonable burden for a company that writes software code as part of its regular business. "

Good Lord. And I say this 20 year programmer.

The lack of awareness of the Judicial Branch. Just because your business is to do something, doesn't mean do it is not burdensome.

Might as well send a writ to NASA to go Mars to assess criminal liability of the many failures there. I mean, NASA runs manned rockets missions, so it is not a burden to do that? Amiright?

YoungHegelian said...

Oh, wait, here's a decent discussion of the technical issues involved that claims that Apple can actually help in the decryption.

It seems that the Feds want Apple to help them get to the still encrypted data, and then the Feds will brute-force the decryption. Apple has built layers of protection around even the encrypted data, & it's these layers that the Feds want Apple to help them bypass.

MarkW said...

"The FBI is assuming that when Apple wrote the encryption software under iOS, they included a 'back door'. That may not be the case."

They didn't include a back door. But this phone is protected by a numerical PIN. For a 4-digit PIN, there are only 10,000 combinations, so it would be easy to break in by trying all 10,000. BUT, the phone's firmware won't allow rapid guessing and will erase the contents if there are too many wrong guesses. The government wants Apple to hack up a version of the firmware that will get rid of the delays and auto-erasure features and also include a way for them to electronically try passwords (rather than typing them on the keyboard). And they want Apple to give them this (which could work on any phone), but they promise, cross-their-hearts, to use it just this one time only.

tim in vermont said...

. It's not a plan of the "left," it is the reality erected by the corporate state

But Robert's solution? Give the state more and more power to make it an irresistible target of moneyed interests! It's so logical! I often lay awake at night wishing I were as smart as Robert Cook... Sigh.. It is never to be.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I figure the FBI is just using this case as a way to get support for the public for backdoors because there is nothing the data on the iPhone can tell the FBI that the FBI doesn't know already.

The FBI (and the US Government) have been attempting to force the engineering of backdoors into encryption products ever since robust encryption for individual use became possible in the 90s with the advent of personal computers.

Google the clipper chip controversy and Phil Zimmerman

After a report from RSA Security, who were in a licensing dispute with regard to the use of the RSA algorithm in PGP, the United States Customs Service started a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act.[4] The United States Government had long regarded cryptographic software as a munition, and thus subject to arms trafficking export controls. At that time, the boundary between what cryptography was permitted ("low-strength") and impermissible ("high-strength") for export from the United States was placed such that PGP fell on the too-strong-to-export side of the boundary. The boundary for legal export has since been raised and now allows PGP to be exported. The investigation lasted three years, but was finally dropped without filing charges.

Also, I would have a lot more sympathy for the FBI if they hadn't bungled the investigation so badly. It is entirely possible that the encryption key was written down somewhere in the apartment. You know, the apartment that troops of reporters and random bystanders trampled through.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Just to be clear, Phil Zimmerman is the creator of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) an encryption product that the government disliked, a lot, because it could not break it.

The clipper chip is a separate matter concerning a chip designed by the NSA with a built in back door that the government wanted to mandate for use if a product was going to include encryption.

Crazy Jane said...

Last May, it was reported that over the course of two years, 270 TSA employee badges had gone missing at San Diego International Airport; more than 1,400 such badges were lost at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Apparently nobody is keeping track of the numbers of lost TSA badges at airports nationwide.

I'm a little skeptical of government security arrangements generally.

Hagar said...

No Cookie, this was different.
The Attorney General is the officer who is supposed to see to it that government employees - including the President - obey the laws of the United States. And if the the Attorney general himself is the offender, the President is obliged to dismiss him.

Remember Watergate? In "the most corrupt administration ever," according to the Democrats? At least one A.G. resigned rather than comply with an unlawful order from the President, and another was prosecuted and went to jail. And, of course, the President himself was obliged to resign or be impeached by Congress.

Here nothing was done. And this is new.

Jason said...

A Reasonable Man: What are you trying to hide, brother? Based on this post alone I feel the Feds are justified in putting you under 24 hour surveillance.

They can't help themselves. It's like a nervous reflex.

Scratch a liberal, you'll find a fascist. Every time.

Dan Hossley said...

Tim Cooks position seems to be that his judgement is superior to the laws of our country. Let's recap. The phone belongs to the county. The county gave permission to the FBI to look. The FBI has a warrant issued by a judge. The FBI can't open it up without destroying the contents of the phone, otherwise known as "evidence". The judge orders Apple to open the phone. Apple refuses.

Tim Cook, the man that regularly issues software updates that render his products obsolete in order to force customers to buy new devices, should be held in contempt.

This isn't about the government "snooping" into your private life. It is about the government right to conduct a reasonable search to find other terrorists.

This isn't about Tim Cook protecting our privacy. It is about Apple marketing a product feature to enhance the value of his company. I'm sure the terrorists will sleep better at night knowing their iphones can't be opened up.

Hagar said...

I mean that Eric Holder went on national TV at least twice that I saw and calmly discussed his role in directing the DoJ perjurious affidavit scheme, and yet nothing was done about it; this is new.
And a clear signal through all the government that lying on official business - including perjury - is all right, don't worry about it.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Since my comment earlier this morning I have discussed it with my tech-exec husband and he echoes what was said by the knowledgeable several times above--that there is no way for Apple to unlock just that phone without creating new software whose use could not possibly be limited to just this investigation, and that the FBI already has the metadata from the phone company and there's not a damn thing they could learn from that specific phone anyway. They're just trying to use this as an excuse. I'm so glad that Tim Cook is standing firm here.

Agree 100% with Tim at 8:32. The real threat is not small-potatoes jihadis.

Robert Cook said...

"'It's not a plan of the "left," it is the reality erected by the corporate state.'

"But Robert's solution? Give the state more and more power to make it an irresistible target of moneyed interests! It's so logical!"


I hear this claim by people who obviously are incapable of reading for comprehension. I have never said we should allow the government to claim more power. I have always asserted the government should be answerable to and serve we, the people.

The Libertarian fantasy that the federal government will be shrunk down to nothing will never come to pass, (and would be a disaster if it did). The government should be our instrument to serve our needs--we are, purportedly, a representative republic, aren't we?--and its power--that we pay for with our taxes--should be turned toward meeting our needs, rather than the needs and prerogatives the criminal classes: of Wall Street, the big banks, and the 1% of the 1%.

Do I think this will ever happen? No. We're in our era of imperial decline, and we're going down.

Kelly Maenpaa said...

As I understand it, this particular phone was issued by the City of San Bernardino as an official work phone. Wouldn't the two now-dead and lost burner phones have had much more info on them? Perhaps I've read/watched too much spy thriller fiction but isn't it the first rule of a compromised terror cell that it shuts down and reconstitutes itself elsewhere? Any info on that phone is likely now useless and obsolete. Players have changed names and identities and moved on.

JSD said...

Everybody says we need this to be safe. But law enforcement failed, even when they were informed, as with Tsarnaev and Bernie Madoff. They would love to have this big data crutch to limp along with. And hold it up whenever the public asks what they are doing to keep us safe.

Smart phones, GPS, license plate scanners, cameras sucking up data all the time. No need for astute observation required. License tag scanner spots an unregistered vehicle, pull it over and start to look for a crime. It’s inevitable, but it also diminishes us. Law enforcement becomes easy and lazy to nab nobody’s, while the truly dangerous and tech savvy criminals exploit it.

No more hot white lights and “Where were you on the night of September 17?” Black & white film noir clichés. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck from Double Indemnity wouldn’t stand a chance and Edward G Robinson becomes some dopey guy looking at computer screens all day.

n.n said...

The cracked cell phone is a symbol of government's incompetent or deceitful immigration policies that, among other things, provides an incentive for progressive wars, native disenfranchisement, and proliferating refugee crises.

Amanda said...

Trump says Apple should be forced to comply.

"To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone? Who do they think they are? No, we have to open it," Trump said during an interview on "Fox & Friends."

http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-apple-phone-san-bernardino-2016-2

Smilin' Jack said...

It seems that the Feds want Apple to help them get to the still encrypted data, and then the Feds will brute-force the decryption.

Ha ha...good luck with that. There are plenty of cheap & easy ways to encrypt data that the FBI & NSA couldn't decrypt in a thousand years. Any competent terrorist knows how to use them.

traditionalguy said...

The CIA/FBI should use eminent domain to purchase Apple. That would cost less than another 9/11.

Bobby said...

Robert Cook,

"The government should be our instrument to serve our needs--we are, purportedly, a representative republic, aren't we?--and its power--that we pay for with our taxes--should be turned toward meeting our needs, rather than the needs and prerogatives the criminal classes: of Wall Street, the big banks, and the 1% of the 1%.

Do I think this will ever happen? No. We're in our era of imperial decline, and we're going down.
"

But if you really believe this, then why would you vote to increase power and authority to a government that you think is only going to use said power to the advantage of the "criminal classes of Wall Street, the big banks and the 1% of the 1%"? I mean, I see where you're going in principle and in theory, but if you've decided that the corrupted government is only going to use its powers to protect the few at the expense of the many, then isn't the logical response to weaken and diminish the powers of that government, so that at least it's less capable of trampling over the rights and liberties of the little guy?

It doesn't make sense to me to just increasingly build up the power and authority of a corrupt government in the hopes that one day maybe - just maybe - it will be populated with individuals who will be responsive to the needs of the many instead of the wants of the few.

Bobby said...

traditionalguy,

"The CIA/FBI should use eminent domain to purchase Apple. That would cost less than another 9/11."

Yes, that's what America needs: a state-owned technology company.

Andrew Pardue said...

Has no one ever used iTunes backup feature on their iPhone. iTunes will back up an locked phone. As far as that goes Apple could probably restore the setting on the phone that requires to pin without unlocking it or breaking the encryption. If the FBI can't jailbreak this phone then their IT department just needs to be fired. This is just about the FBI and the justice department showing the tech industry that they can make them do their bidding. The judge must have been a tech noob to have made this ruling. Gee there is probably an armies worth of 5th graders who could each have gotten to this data in about 5 minutes.

SOJO said...
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SOJO said...
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MadisonMan said...

If the FBI can't jailbreak this phone then their IT department just needs to be fired.

I'm inclined to agree. It must embarrass the FBI to be shown to be not very competent.

justaguy said...

This is not a privacy issue. This is not at all like the safety deposit box case. The older iphones issues were like the safety deposit box cases, Apple had the keys to unlock them and the court asked for something that already existed. Apple either complied or fought legally. Here what is sought does not exist. There is nothing to subpoena, nothing to seize-- there is no key.

What Apple doesn't want to do is CREATE a program that breaks into their own product. They are currently giving popular reasons why they shouldn't (privacy), but I am asking about the legal issues with forcing labor from people against their will because the government thinks it aids national security and without a congressionally passed set of laws that apply like selective service. This project the judge seems to be tasking might take many thousands of man-hours and use large amounts of Apple IP--is it within the Federal Rules of Government Contracting--Apple didn't agree to have them apply here? They can sue under fifth amendment for loss of property taken for public use, but what allows the judge to force them to create that property?

Can the government force Taylor Swift to create a propaganda video supporting some cause or war or go to jail, and if not how is that any different to the programmers who do not want to create this program or Apple who doesn't want to? Can I force Samuel Jackson to do a commercial opposing everything he believes in, or make L. Tribe write a law textbook that teaches the opposite of his ideas?

The government can seize/demand the IP and have the NSA write the program, but I don't think that the judge can force a person or persons (a company) to create something or work (involuntary servitude) outside of conscription.

AReasonableMan said...

Jason said...
They can't help themselves. It's like a nervous reflex.

Scratch a liberal, you'll find a fascist. Every time.


You are a humorless dummy.

Bobby said...

justaguy,

"Can the government force Taylor Swift to create a propaganda video supporting some cause or war or go to jail, and if not how is that any different to the programmers who do not want to create this program or Apple who doesn't want to? Can I force Samuel Jackson to do a commercial opposing everything he believes in, or make L. Tribe write a law textbook that teaches the opposite of his ideas?"

I think that, if they were self-aware and honest, many conservatives and liberals would say, "Yes, absolutely!" so long as the outcome supported their "side." Now they may quickly switch sides if the issue is, say, legalization of marijuana or prostitution vice baking a wedding cake or buying health insurance, but- if it supports their particular preferences- both conservatives and liberals alike are all about government intervention and coercion. (I'm speaking purely to the American political spectrum, of course).

Robert Cook said...

"But if you really believe this, then why would you vote to increase power and authority to a government that you think is only going to use said power to the advantage of the 'criminal classes of Wall Street, the big banks and the 1% of the 1%'? I mean, I see where you're going in principle and in theory, but if you've decided that the corrupted government is only going to use its powers to protect the few at the expense of the many, then isn't the logical response to weaken and diminish the powers of that government, so that at least it's less capable of trampling over the rights and liberties of the little guy?

What do you mean by "vote to increase power and authority to government...?" What vote would do that? Where have I said we should vote to do that? How do you propose we weaken and diminish the powers of the government?

My position is that,ideally, the government's power--our power, actually, as we pay for it--should be turned to our uses, to solve the problems and provide for the needs of the citizens of this country.

Kirk Parker said...

I'll second Tim in Vermont's 8:32am comment. Really, if we're going to end up with that sort of dystopian tyrrany, why lift a finger to support the state?

Note that, if we had the sort of cultural self-confidence we had in 1900, we would crush the Islamists like the bugs they are, collateral damage be damned. ("You shouldn't have been standing so close to the bad guys.") The fact that we're not shows clearly that the real problem is our own self-hating elites, not some seventh-century wannabes.

And tradguy, whatever your tradition is, I hereby disclaim it.

ARM,

"[someone] is a humorless dummy"

Yeah, people tend to get that way when they see 1984 materializing before their very eyes.

Iapetus said...

"This isn't about Tim Cook protecting our privacy. It is about Apple marketing a product feature to enhance the value of his company. I'm sure the terrorists will sleep better at night knowing their iphones can't be opened up"

Can you point to a single case where the FBI had, in fact, used the contents of a mobile phone they'd seized from a terror suspect to prevent a terrorist attack that was about to be executed by the original terrorist's co-conspirators? Not that I'd take the government's side in this instance, but the government might strengthen its weak legal argument if it could point to an instance where the co-operation it's seeking from Apple actually did help to prevent a planned terrorist attack. It strikes me the FBI's current position is like that of the TSA when it comes to airport security lines, namely, "we can't prove the airport security line charade actually works, because we can't point to a single case where we've stopped a terrorist attack on a plane, but who knows? Why take chances? The Precautionary Principle trumps everything."

Bobby said...

Andrew Pardue, MadisonMan,

In fairness to the FBI, they're actually quite good at conducting criminal investigations. They're just absurdly weak when it comes to anything cyber (as, frankly, is most of the US Government). Absurdly weak.

Director Comey is well aware of this and he's actively trying to build up the FBI's cyber capabilities, but he's up against significant financial and institutional obstacles- for example, the fact that he can't hire even highly qualified computer scientists if they've used marijuana once in the last three years. Of course, when he pointed that out, it was the Republicans who criticized him and made him walk it back.

Because apparently marijuana use is really that bad.

Bobby said...

Robert Cook,

"What do you mean by "vote to increase power and authority to government...?" What vote would do that? Where have I said we should vote to do that? How do you propose we weaken and diminish the powers of the government?"

Well, beg your pardon, but you told me on a different thread that you were voting Green Party. Last I checked, their platform had lots of planks where they advocate for giving government more power and authority than they currently have. Admittedly, it's just only in the areas where they want the government to control people's behaviors and activities and not in the areas where they think individual liberty is more important - but then that's true of the Republican and Democratic platforms as well.

If you want a political party that's more about "weaken(ing) and diminish(ing) the powers of the government," I'd recommend the Libertarians.

"My position is that,ideally, the government's power--our power, actually, as we pay for it--should be turned to our uses, to solve the problems and provide for the needs of the citizens of this country."

But herein lies the problem, sir. Yes, in a perfect world, government would do lots of great things perfectly well and solve everything from world peace to world hunger, and everything in between. But why stop there? I mean, if you're going to wish for a perfect world, why not just go ahead and wish away all problems in the first place? You've identified it already: the crux of the matter is that we don't and will never live in a perfect world. The game is always going to be rigged by those with more money, more power, more influence, more intelligence, more birthright, and if you accept that, why would you possibly advocate for giving more power to an institution that you know is just going to use it for the advantage of the "criminal classes of Wall Street, the big banks and the 1% of the 1%"?

Madison got there with Federalist #51- men aren't angels and angels aren't going to be governing men.

jr565 said...

Say instead of an iPhone it was a safe deposit box. No one can normally get into a safe deposit box except the owner. However, the IRS can serve a Levy and a Notice of Seizure requiring banks to freeze the box. The IRS then requests that the owner opens the box in the presence of the owner and bank representatives. If the person refuses, a court order is issued, requiring the box to be forced open and the contents impounded.
So, once the court order is issued the state CAN get into the safe deposit box and the contents impounded. That would be a reasonable search based on probable cause.
could a ban design a safe deposit box that could never be broken into without destroying the contents? Doesn't that bypass the ability of the state to impounds contents of safe deposit boxes, based on probable cause?
if the bank had such a safe deposit box, the courts would most likely tell them they created the problem and need to come up with the fix. Otherwise they are making it impossible for authorities to be able to carry out actions required by law.

jr565 said...

Bobby wrote:
In fairness to the FBI, they're actually quite good at conducting criminal investigations. They're just absurdly weak when it comes to anything cyber (as, frankly, is most of the US Government). Absurdly weak.

Well Apple is saying THEY can't get into the Phones. (they can). If the makers of the phone can't get it, why would the best hackers at the FBI get in? This is the problem with encryption that has no off switch. it is the terrorists perfect tool.

jr565 said...

lappets wrote:
Can you point to a single case where the FBI had, in fact, used the contents of a mobile phone they'd seized from a terror suspect to prevent a terrorist attack that was about to be executed by the original terrorist's co-conspirators? Not that I'd take the government's side in this instance, but the government might strengthen its weak legal argument if it could point to an instance where the co-operation it's seeking from Apple actually did help to prevent a planned terrorist attack.

We don't get to see the inner workings of the FBI nor the intel they use, nor the stings they run. So if data was seized by them that led to blocking of a terrorist threat, they'd let us know about it in the most oblique ways possible. However, a phone doesn't have to literally solve the crime before it occurs. All cell phones have contacts. If those terrorists are in a cell, they might call people not he phone and have those phones on the phones address book.
You then have access to those numbers, and can start traces.

LarsPorsena said...

One day in the not too distant future we will be standing up to our knees in ashes but we will be smiling because our right to privacy is protected.

jr565 said...

Suppose instead of using her own server Hillary Clinton simply conducted business on her iPhone. And when it came time to turn over her iPhone and its contents she simply said she forgot her pin. Wouldn't she essentially get away with having to turn over her iPhone? Govt would have no recourse. Because they can't get into the phone.
Would those siding with Apple also side with Apple if it let hillary get away with skirting the law? I bet a lot more people will start using their iPhone to conduct business. Because if the shit ever hits the fan, all they have to do is not provide the PIN to govt.

jr565 said...

Suppose instead of a phone it was a lock on a door. And the only way into a certain apartment is through that lock. The lock is designed to only allow the owner to access the lock.And if too many attempts are made to try to open the lock it causes all the contents in the house to fry any equipment that is plugged in. Regardless, no one can open the door.
If the court issues a court order or a warrant and the cops go to serve the warrant, they need to be able to open the door. If the person doesn't feel like letting the cops in can he just keep the door locked? and cops can't do anything?
Courts would tell the company, you can't design a lock that makes it impossible to allow cops to enter an apartment. They would need to work with authorities to open the door.

Robert Cook said...

"Well Apple is saying THEY can't get into the Phones. (they can). If the makers of the phone can't get it, why would the best hackers at the FBI get in? This is the problem with encryption that has no off switch. it is the terrorists perfect tool."

It is also the best protection we have against a surveillance state that knows no boundaries of law or decency...the state we live in right now.

Robert Cook said...

"Last I checked, (the Green Party's) platform had lots of planks where they advocate for giving government more power and authority than they currently have."

Such as?

Joe said...

I'm not convinced Apple does know how to break into this phone. If the FBI is so sure, why not just hire someone?

EMD said...

"Courts would tell the company, you can't design a lock that makes it impossible to allow cops to enter an apartment. They would need to work with authorities to open the door."

The problem with this analogy is that it's no longer one door and one lock that could be opened. But yours. Or mine. Or anyone with that particular brand of door or lock. Without our consent. That's dangerous. I've been tough on TIm Cook for his various stances, but he is absolutely right on this one. And absolutely American.

EMD said...

If the FBI is so sure, why not just hire someone?

A back door does not exist. It would need to be created. Someone outside of Apple's proprietary development system could conceivably create a back door, but it would be very difficult.

EMD said...

"The government should be our instrument to serve our needs--we are, purportedly, a representative republic, aren't we?--and its power--that we pay for with our taxes--should be turned toward meeting our needs, rather than the needs and prerogatives the criminal classes: of Wall Street, the big banks, and the 1% of the 1%.


I sincerely do not understand why Cook is not an anarchist.

EMD said...

"Does this now mean the state has no power to search your papers and effects (now essentially your phone)?"

Hopefully, they'll need reasonable cause and a warrant to do so.

Kirk Parker said...

jr565 @ 6:17pm and following,

In turn, you are the tyrant's perfect tool. If you see an awesome privacy device and think first "oh no some criminal or terrorist might use this" and not "Awesome, one more temporary advantage in the arms race against Big Brother", then you are making yourself part of the problem.

I wrote the above, and upon proofreading it decided it was to harsh so I wasn't going to post it. But then I read further and came upon this:

"Courts would tell the company, you can't design a lock that makes it impossible to allow cops to enter an apartment."

I see I wasn't too harsh, but too lenient. A more unAmerican expression I can hardly imagine! Please, do us all a favor, yourself included, and go move to France or one of the many, many other places where their polity is descended from The Divine Right Of Kings, and stop dragging us down.

Iapetus said...

"if the bank had such a safe deposit box, the courts would most likely tell them they created the problem and need to come up with the fix. Otherwise they are making it impossible for authorities to be able to carry out actions required by law."

And I suppose if a criminal defendant invokes his 5th A rights not to testify or voluntarily provide information he's been requested to provide by the FBI, the Courts could just order the defendant to testify because his refusing to testify creates a problem that "makes it impossible for authorities to ... carry out actions required by law." Thank heavens America is not yet the little Hitler Land of your dreams.

Robert Cook said...

"One day in the not too distant future we will be standing up to our knees in ashes but we will be smiling because our right to privacy is protected."

"A constant appeal to a state of crisis becomes the new normal for arming the police, curtailing civil liberties, expanding the punishing state, criminalizing everyday behavior, and supressing dissent. Fear now drives the major narratives that define the United States and give rise to dominant forms of power free from any sense of moral and political conviction, if not accountability."

Mike said...

Gee if Obama hadn't shut down the DHS investigation into the mosque where the terrorist became radicalized then opening this one phone would have been a moot point. I'm on the side of safety and security here and see Apple as making a noble stand. They can't control a "key" once they create one for the DOJ.

Robert Cook said...



"The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to know what’s on Syed Farook’s Apple iPhone. As the old saying goes, people in hell want icewater too.
The San Bernardino killer’s phone is encrypted. More than ten attempts to guess the correct six-digit pass code (out of a million possibilities) will result in destruction of all data on the phone. They’re stuck. At least they say they are (I’m skeptical). They want Apple to help.
Forcing Apple to do so would be a simple matter of issuing a subpoena if the company had the information in question, but it doesn’t. So the FBI wants Apple to create an entirely new version of its operating system that allows them to bypass the ten-try limit. And a federal judge, citing an 18th century law called the All Writs Act, has ordered Apple to just that.
As I write this, Apple has, quite reasonably, refused the demand. Presumably there’s a court battle in the offing.
Apple should win in the courts, and in any event what the FBI is demanding should be impossible. If what the FBI is demanding isn’t impossible on this generation of iPhones, Apple should be working overtime on a system update that MAKES it impossible, just in case the courts side with the FBI.
This is not about Syed Farook, nor is it the equivalent of a demand to hand over the key to an apartment because the cops have a search warrant. This is about you, and it’s the equivalent of a demand to hand over the keys to 700 million apartments just in case the cops ever take a notion to rummage around in your closet."

aritai said...

They already do. It's a condition of doing business in these countries. The U.S. actually admits they do this publicly, fool. And the citizens of your silly country are even required to pay for it rather than assuming it’s part of the cost of their county protecting them. You even wrote it into a law "CALEA" rather than keeping it secret. So if Apple doesn't like the U.S. rules, they should just move to a place where it happens but they don't talk about it and never admit it, and if they do, like Snowden, they actually kill the idiot and his family. Because if they don't their nation will die, or worse their elites embarrassed I like that word.. em-bare-assed, which is why the EC has data privacy rules, to protect just their elites, and Britain’s libel laws (who needs a 1st amendment?” your government can’t get much worse than those that don’t have legally protected free speech.. And if they moved to say, my country, then they'd be a legal target of U.S. Spies who’d insure that had access. Buying off employees or chip manufactures is cheap. These agencies are enabled by your laws to do whatever it takes to protect you and so move and both problems are solved. Plus our corrupt leadership would be richer and have even more taxes to waste. Apple must not be the technical wiz they claim to be if they can’t do what Lotus did a couple of decades ago and protect their nation and therefor customers by enabling only very rich nations and their sovereign (“we the people in the U.S.) to have access and even protect even those that don't have these d@mn phones with built in obsolence given because us peasants can’t replace our batteries like every other phone made, which they did at the request of your struggling and going broke carriers. Good to see you're in decline. We'll pass you shortly, you'll be eating our dust, not just smog, shortly.

Mike said...

Guess what Kirk Parker, it is illegal to make and sell a phone that can't be wiretapped. And police all over routinely deploy the Stingray device to trick cell phones into using the cops unauthorized wiretap as a "tower" despite this tactic losing in several lower courts. We must push back against the Security State.

SeanF said...

Robert Cook: "If what the FBI is demanding isn’t impossible on this generation of iPhones, Apple should be working overtime on a system update that MAKES it impossible, just in case the courts side with the FBI."

AFAIK, they already have. The phone in question is a somewhat older model, a 5C. The newer models will not accept an iOS update without the user's passcode.

Sam said...

It's come to my attention that when a terrorist burns a piece of paper, even one with critical information on it, its molecules are so scrambled that the FBI can't put them back together. And sometimes criminals will set fire to an entire crime scene to cover their tracks.

This is unacceptable!

All good citizens should immediately turn in all matches, lighters, barbecues, accelerants, and so on. Anyone with a proven need for fire could apply at their local gendarmerie - i mean police station, pardon - and a functionary could be sent over to provide fire and make sure nothing illegal is going on.

How can we trust the government to handle 21st century technologies when this obvious lapse has been left unaddressed since prehistoric times?

I am not Lazslo.

Robert Cook said...

SeanF,

I don't think I made the comment you attribute to me, (not that I disagree with the sentiment). I think someone else here made the comment.

Robert Cook said...

SeanF:

Oh, I see you were quoting part of a passage I quoted from another source, (linked to via the html I added to the quoted passage).