When it comes to some forms of intelligence information—in collecting, safeguarding and breaking into it—the process is often more important than any particular data. But, I’ll get back to that later.
This week, a U. S. District Court ordered Apple, Inc. to help the FBI break into the iCloud data safeguard mechanism in the iPhone of one of the husband-and-wife team of terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December. On Friday, the Justice Department (in a follow-up brief) demanded that the judge order Apple to comply immediately with his ruling. The letter also included comments, perhaps sarcastically, that Apple’s resistance was essentially due to it business plan.
Apple had intended to Appeal the Decision and was in the process of preparing it to be submitted to the Court next week. While the electronic data community is forming to support Apple, some legal analysts have stated that Justice is probably trying to pre-empt Apple’s Appeal.
Additionally the extremely quick follow-up, and the wording, seems to suggest that Justice is attempting to politicize the case by trying to sway public opinion. A NY Times article, providing more details, is linked, as follows: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/business/justice-department-calls-apples-refusal-to-unlock-iphone-a-marketing-strategy.html?emc=edit_na_20160219&nlid=64667462&ref=headline.
Initially, it was suggested that the FBI’s request was only for a one-time fix, and for just that one iPhone. So, once the master key is available, however, what about the next time that the FBI wants to peak into a suspect’s encrypted data, and the next, etc? Or other agencies?
Additionally, every other country in which iPhones are sold might sue for similar access, through their respective legal systems—including China and Russia? And, what if there isn’t any worthwhile intelligence data in the iPhone; but, the precedent of government infringement on proprietary rights would then have already been established?
Toward the end of World War II, America developed the Atomic Bomb before Nazi Germany did. And then, for the past four decades, we have been trying to stop the spread of nuclear weapons—both the number of warheads and the nations with access. Trying to put the genie back into the bottle?
Might governments, by forcing companies to provide access to supposedly protected data in their machines, ultimately be setting the stage for the next round of Non-Proliferation talks; but, in this case, over the dismantlement of some of the electronic data advances that have been made during the Digital Age? In essence, enabling such surreptitious access to personal, corporate and state information could, indeed, jeopardize both personal and national security!
NOTE: I am an Apple shareholder; but, this blog post is intended to defend the issues and not to defend the corporation, per se.