I’m not going over all the background of the iphone controversy, except to say that Apple refuses to cooperate in the investigation of one of the mass murderers in the December 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California. 14 people were killed and 22 gravely injured. The radicalized Muslims, husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tahsfeen Malik, also planned to set a bomb off. Normally, investigators can get a search warrant to look at suspects’ phone records. This has been constitutional and normal practice, useful in a variety of ways, for criminal investigators.
Now, with ever more sophisticated hardware and software, criminals can hide their phone correspondence, and in the case of Apple iphones, they can permanently hide information from investigators that historically could not be hidden. It is constitutional in our country to investigate crimes in this way, yet Apple is holding our legal system–backed by the constitution–hostage.
And yet TV commentator after commentator is acting as if this is all something new and a questionable invasion of privacy. They say that the government is asking Apple to be a “lock pick” into someone’s private data, but since Apple made the lock in the first place (that is, a way for criminals to conceal information), this argument is silly and obnoxious. They say if Apple is forced to do this, other countries will be able to use it against innocent people, like political dissidents and journalists. Really? (Really??) There are ways around this, I’m pretty sure, but high-profit international companies wouldn’t want to go there (if you have a company that is strictly US based, can Iran make you do something?). Maybe I’m giving the likes of Apple too much “benefit of the doubt” by even thinking this claim is a real possibility. I’d like to hear from legal experts in this specific field, since I’m only hearing conjecture.
In any case, Apple has taken the power and not our investigators, as they’re trying to claim. Various people and organizations (Google, Twitter), now even Amazon (boycott Amazon?), are backing Apple. Why? It makes no sense. How paranoid does a person have to be that they’re worried that the FBI or whoever wants to take the time to listen to their phone? And, I for one don’t want my choices made for me by hugely powerful companies like Google and Facebook; based on their current censorship and other actions, they are worse than our own government investigators.♦
This brought to my mind the issue that blacks have brought up in claiming racism in the justice system. I agree with them on this one: why are all the white folks who take drugs free (think of all those Hollywood types, even), while so many blacks are behind bars due to drug sentences? So, are the whites simply worried that they’ll now be get caught buying cocaine? It’s kind-of a rhetorical question, but I don’t know where the paranoia is coming from. And I don’t get how Americans think it’s OK to protect the mass murderers in this case. Criminals, it so often seems, have more rights than their victims. And now that is more the truth than ever. The criminals must laugh themselves to sleep at night.
♦ These companies know how dumb Americans are, I’m guessing, since internet users constantly give them access to private things like email contacts, people in private circles (a Google+ thing), allow them to make posts FOR them at Twitter, Facebook, etc., and allow these companies to follow new people without their permission, etc. If you don’t think so, just try posting a comment at any number of online magazines/newspapers, etc., and read the conditions. Yet, these same Americans complain loudly about investigators trying to look at one phone of a confirmed mass murderer . . .