More often than I should, I open up Facebook and peruse through the feed of what almost always proves to be a bunch of nonsense. A cleavage photo captioned “Look at my new haircut! #loveit”, as if the photo has anything to do with your new haircut. Or someone using the social media platform as a personal journal to write open letters to betraying ex lovers who have just committed the latest in a series of infidelities. No one is surprised. It was obvious to us months ago after the first post that your significant other is a shitty person. You should have broken up with them then. Get it over with already so we can all move on. But this morning I came across a bunch of my friends sharing an open letter from Apple, written by CEO Tim Cook, to their customers. Admittedly an apple fan, I couldn’t resist. What I went on to read was upsetting to say the least. The letter opens by saying
“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the [San Bernardino shooting] investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.
The government promised that if Apple makes the backdoor to the iPhone encryption that the government will only use it this one time. Sound like bullshit? Apple thinks so too. In the open letter Tim Cook goes on to say
“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks…”
“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.”
This isn’t the first time the government has overextended its authority of surveillance on American citizens (for example the numerous global surveillance programs run by the NSA as revealed by Edward Snowden releasing NSA documents).
The Government is using the San Bernadino investigation as an excuse to have Apple teach them how to hack iPhones. The government is promising that they’ll only use the hack this one time.
This my friends, is bullshit, and we are all partly to blame. We are all too quick to work ourselves into a frenzy over what Beyoncé wore or what Kanye tweeted, and pass off another invasion of privacy as business as usual. This started with the Patriot Act, the most blatant trampling of privacy to date, all as an over reaction framed around protecting Merica. Once we signed off on this, it was game over. We treat invasion of privacy as a cost of doing business, which is sad. Perhaps it is too late, but read Tim Cook’s letter. I implore you. Not an apple user or fan? It doesn’t fucking matter. This affects all of us, and is another precedent that will be set for future privacy invasions. Let’s give Peyton Manning’s college tea bagging story a break and focus on something that actually matters.