Friday, January 24, 2020 -
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The fools at Apple

A terrorist kills innocents in San Bernadino, California. Terrorism is a worldwide problem. Apple can help. The FBI has a terrorist’s phone it can’t access. Apple can make it happen. Apple says no. It has to protect its brand, based in part on its guarantee of absolute privacy, at all costs.

Problem is, Apple calculated the costs in an extremely short-sighted way. It said: Our customers must always be certain that, no matter what, we shall protect their privacy. Therefore, we shall not help the FBI. Terrorism can go its merry way.

Apple’s arrogance was astounding. It assumed that only it could help the FBI. No one else could. Ergo, our customers will always be certain that their privacy is protected. Boomerang! It turns out that Apple is not the only one who could help the FBI, not the only one who could crack the encrypted code on the phone.

Message sent: Apple’s encryption is not foolproof. Apple failed; its assurance to its customers came up short.

Now we hear all manner of rationalization: Well, actually, the phone used by the San Bernadino shooter wasn’t really the most updated Apple iPhone and didn’t really have the most updated privacy encryption — as if someone outside Apple could crack one phone but not, ultimately, the next, more advanced phone.

This whole conflict between Apple and the FBI was not the absolute  either/or that Apple made it out to be — not a matter of high principle. For its stubborness Apple now has mud all over its face; its invincibility is no longer invincible. Apple could simply have said to the FBI to begin with:

We understand there is a transcendent matter of human life at stake here, not only in San Bernadino but around the world. We are responsible world citizens. As part of that, we have to protect the privacy of our customers. So, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll do our best to get this data to the FBI. We’ll do it in our own labs. No outsider, such as the FBI, will be present. We shall deliver the data from this one phone. The whole enterprise will be under our exclusive control, in an extraordinary instance of solicitude for national security. Once we are done cracking this phone, we shall destroy the data that enabled us to do it.

In this way, Apple would have been both a responsible corporation and a responsible world citizen.

Look for the ultimate irony: Apple now whining to the FBI that Apple wants the FBI to turn over the decryption data it used to access the San Bernadino phone. To this ultimate hypocrisy, the FBI should say no. It should also destroy the decryption data it used.

Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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