Not sure we should, but….

So a lot going on in the world with regards to security.  Apparently the FBI wants Apple to do something?  Have you heard about this?  I can’t seem to find any information about it.  I joke because it’s out there so much and it’s a critical topic for discussion.  And there are a lot of great articles about this that really get into the nuts and bolts of it and what is at stake.

Check out this post.

And this one.

Both have some really good insight and are well researched.  They address a lot of the key points and this definitely gives you a lot to think about.  I on the other hand are still debating a post on it because everyone is doing it and it just seems like jumping on the train.

But I do come back to the point that I feel gets overlooked and covered very well in the second post.  This is about precedent and then, and only then, the backdoor.  This is not about terrorism or about imminent threats.  That’s the smoke screen.  There might be some interesting information on there, but in large part the information that the FBI needs, or believes may be on the phone, can and probably already has been obtained.  We have spent several years with the US Army’s premier counterintelligence/counter-terrorism investigative element, and years after that in various counterintelligence operational and investigative positions.  And we know that the same information can be legally obtained, and often without issue, through other means.

Without getting into all the technical details (because that is largely noise to this debate), I’m going to try to outline my point.  This really comes down to establishing the precedent which will ultimately create the backdoor.  If you are new to the security field or haven’t been paying attention lately you may not know that governments around the world have had significant issues with current encryption on mobile devices.  They claim that information is on those devices that can prevent future attacks or crimes.  This has led to a public battle pitting them against corporations.  And like every good battle it is important to get the public on your side.  So what is the one issue that gets a reaction – terrorism and threats to our collective freedoms.  And now they have a case to pursue this with and one that invokes a lot of passion.  (Please for a minute ignore the recent revelation that an investigator changed the Apple ID.)

The thought is that by having and selling encrypted devices, corporations are actually allowing criminals to continue their evils ways all for the sake of a profit.  Find this silly, well the FBI and the US Government actually said just that in their court filings. They are pitting Apple as being pro-bad guys and putting in language that implies that they are ONLY asking for a backdoor for this ONE phone.

But we know that it’s not that simple and the links above highlight those points in great detail.

The government wants two things – first, they would love Apple to just make a backdoor and call it a day.  That backdoor would allow them to access the phone and go home.  But wait, that’s actually not it.  Because we all know that once the door is open, you can’t really close it again.  So that backdoor for this one phone actually is a backdoor into all phones.  And that’s the second part, and perhaps the most important part; this is where the precedent comes into play.  Even if Apple changed everything after the backdoor was used for this phone (and hopefully on this phone), the FBI now has precedent that Apple has enabled this in certain cases.  And the snowball then rolls down hill.  This case then opens the door to other types of criminal cases, and ultimately it becomes standard operating procedures and processes for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

So hopefully you can see why Apple is fighting this as hard as they are.  I fall in the middle of this and that’s a tough spot to be.  I certainly understand why the government wants to determine if there is something, anything, on the phone that could lead to preventing attacks.  But ultimately, I know that when you open the door and establish the precedent, then it’s hard to go back.  SEE – government entitlements.

Well, looks like we just did post about it.  What do you think?  Our opinions are ours alone and we welcome dialogue and discussion on this.


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