Apple vs. the U.S. government: Who elected Tim Cook?

“‘We didn’t elect Tim Cook to protect privacy,’ writes Robert Levine in a Sunday New York Times op-ed piece about the San Bernardino stand-off between Apple and the FBI. ‘That’s what governments are for,'” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune. “‘But the current choice,’ he concludes, ‘is between a government that doesn’t seem to recognize limits to its own power to access personal information and a technology company that does. It’s a bad choice, but an obvious one. While nobody elected Mr. Cook to protect our privacy, we should be glad someone is.'”

“That’s one point of view,” P.E.D. writes. “It happens to be mine.”

P.E.D. writes, “It’s one shared by eight out of nine U.S. newspaper editorial boards and 71% of my readers.”

MacDailyNews Take: And 94.17% of ours:

MacDailyNews Poll

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Who elected Tim Cook? Some guy named Steve.

SEE ALSO:
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Prediction: Apple will cave to U.S. government demand to crack open iPhone, Donald Trump will get the credit – February 20, 2016
Apple: Terrorist’s Apple ID password changed in government custody, blocking access – February 19, 2016
Petition asks Obama administration to stop demanding Apple create iPhone backdoor – February 19, 2016
Newspaper editorials back Apple over U.S. government 8 to 1 – February 19, 2016
Apple likely to invoke First Amendment free-speech rights in against U.S. government backdoor demands – February 19, 2016
Donald Trump calls for Apple boycott over San Bernardino terrorist iPhone encryption – February 19, 2016
Secret memo details U.S. government’s broader strategy to crack phones – February 19, 2016
DOJ escalates war against Apple, files new motion to compel company to break into iPhone – February 19, 2016
Apple is still fighting Big Brother – February 19, 2016
Apple co-founder Woz: Steve Jobs would have fought this U.S. government overreach, too – February 19, 2016
Mother who lost son in San Bernardino terrorist attack sides with Apple against U.S. government backdoor demands – February 19, 2016
iPhones don’t kill people, people kill people – February 19, 2016

77 Comments

  1. Attention ALL Apple customers and supporters:

    Apple has an army of loyal long time customers and supporters – NOW is the time to stand forcefully behind Apple init’s fight to protect the constitutional civil rights of privacy for all US citizens.

    Apple is a model corporate citizen and consumer rights champion whose lifetime track record speaks for itself and for us all.

    Apple is the world’s most valuable company with a life long commitment to excellence in products, support, morals and ethics.

    Stand firm with Apple as it has always stood for you the consumer and as its record of excellence in everything it has always done proves:

    *1* – Read Tim Cook’s letter explaining Apple and forward it to everyone you know so that they understand the issues…

    *2* – Sign the White House petition demanding the the government Halt efforts that compel Apple and other device makers to create a “backdoor” for the Government to access citizens data:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/apple-privacy-petition

    *3* – Attend an Apple store protest in a city near you on Tuesday February 23rd 2016. Protests are scheduled and planned across the US to back Apple in battle with FBI:

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/protests-rally-across-us-back-201127260.html

    Just say NO to the un-American FBI/government rape of citizen privacy rights, guaranteed by the constitution.

    DO NOT SUCCUMB TO FEAR.

    Even the Former Director of CIA and NSA Says FBI is Wrong about Apple’s Encryption

    1. You yourself have just succomb to fear.
      You’ve been manipulated by the media and Apple. Apple has told you X, and you blindly follow it.

      All of you fanboys. You blindly follow what a corporation thinks and tells you, and what the media is saying. You ask no questions of it. You don’t conduct an analysis to see if there’s any merit to the government’s request. Or a legal position.

      You don’t discuss the implications of not complying. How times change and law enforcement needs to keep up.

      You just believe what Apple tells you. And it creates fear in you. And now you react.

      None of you are evolved. You’re easily manipulated. Armchair critic know it alls sitting on the sidelines thinking you’re politicians and law makers and law enforcement. You’re so far removed from all of this to render your comments effectively meaningless. All of your thoughts and actions are based on fear.

      The Great Distraction Machine that is the Internet has sucked you in, and so has a corporation. Apple is simply using you soley for its own gain by creating fear in you so you’ll react and help them.

      Apple doesn’t care about you. Any of you could write a letter and call on Apple to join your fight against a speeding ticket, foreclosure, car repossession, divorce, or whatever, and all you’d get is an empty telephone.

      There are a ton of laws surrounding this. There is a vital importance to law enforcement being able to access evidence so they can properly investigate a crime. None of you know much of anything about this. You are just full of fear.

      1. You don’t have much of a sense of history do you? Our history is full of individual rights being overstepped. How about the internment of American citizens who just happened to have Japanese ancestry. How about the CIA meddling in US domestic activity (discovered and stopped by the Church Committee)? How about J. Edgar Hoover’s blackmail and private vendettas, using the resources of the FBI? There’s more.

        This isn’t a matter of “un-evolved fanboys”. This is a matter of the basic tenets of the constitution. Your “Great Distraction Machine” is really the FBI and Justice Department demanding that you give up fundamental rights. You appear to be all too willing to do so.

        1. You are so far from a lawyer…

          You are neithef equipped nor competent to conduct a legal analysis. You haven’t even pointed out any specific statutes that would be infringed.

          None of you. There is no coherent argument at this point as to why the FBI shouldn’t have their court order upheld.

          But I’ll illuminate this for you. People have constitutional rights which affords them some privacy protection. However the Constitution is NOT ABSOLUTE in all respects.

          Because you’re not a lawyer. Becauseyou don’t specialize in constitutional law. Because you haven’t spent years doing this and reading millions of pages of case law on the matter. You have no idea what you’re talking about other than your words and actions being based out of fear created by a corporation and the media.

          When a person breaks the law, the standard rights that apply to everyone no longer apply to them and criminal law kicks in. They are no longer free to be free: they can be held and detained and potentially imprisoned. They’re liberties can be taken away because society decided this was ok long ago. That people who commit crimes can have their liberties taken away.

          The specific issue in this case is that Apple has raised an argument that if they crack the phone, it will basically be IMPOSSIBLE for them to contain the hack, it will leak, and many other people could have their phones hacked.

          It is a fantastic proposition coming from a highly secretive company with all kinds of security measures in place. And it also presupposes that such a hack, if created, couldn’t immediately be properly patched and killed.

          Let the people who do this for a living do their jobs, and stop fear mongering.

          1. Many people (apparently including you), don’t know the difference between laws and the Constitution. Laws get made all the time and a lot of them are junk. For example, there were laws passed in Kansas that forced the teaching of creationism. Those laws didn’t pass constitutional muster and were thrown out on appeal. There are laws the forbid spitting on the sidewalk and farting in church. If anybody tried to enforce those laws, they’d get laughed out of appeals court or the Supreme Court if it got that far.

            The Constitution is the controlling document. The 4th Amendment is pretty clear on our rights as regards illegal search and seizure. The 5th Amendment says that we cannot be forced to testify against ourselves.

            Those FBI/Justice Department demands run pretty far afoul of the Constitution. It really doesn’t matter what laws say if they violate those fundamental rights.

            Do try to keep up.

          2. A law that can’t be understood is no law at all. It is just the strong compelling the week. The clever manipulating the many. People with a perverse need to dominate others just love that about the “law.”

            That’s the same reason they hate guns in private hands unless it is their personal bodyguard. They want a monopoly on the use of force.

            The fact that the Fourth Amendment gives the government limited flexibility in selectively disregarding some people who are a danger to others doesn’t make it right but merely expedient.

            The job of law enforcement is difficult for a reason. It is pure aggression against others that must have extremely rigorous oversight. It isn’t Apples job to grease the skids. And it is straight up extortion that they have spend money on lawyers even if they have a mountain of it.

            Quit being a lapdog for a bunch of rent collectors.

            1. Your post really says nothing at all. It’s rhetoric because you’re not educated or employed in association with these matters.

              Yes, the standards of things like search and seizure warrants are rigorous. In this case, that standard is met beyond any reasonable doubt.

              Terrible crimes were committed and the Police have a search and seizure warrant over the persons and property of the suspects.

              No rational person in society would argue against such a search warrant, or the legal framework upon which such search warrants are given. People accept and agree that Police should be able to obtain these rights against criminals in certain circumstances with enough probable cause.

              This helps determine truth and guilt; provides remedies for society; and helps remove those people from society who are a danger to others for your protection.

              You all are confused and conflating different issues. There is no issue in terms of the search and seizure warrant. It’s just the specific aspect of asking Apple to access the data on the phone.

              You all are arguing constitutional issues and you don’t even know why. Constitutional infringements for what? Against whom?

              I’ll give you a hint: Did Apple file a Constitutional Question?

            2. Yes, it filed a constitutional question under the 1st, 4th, 5th, 13th, and 14th amendments. The lawyer representing Apple is Ted Olson, who was prevailing counsel in the Citizens United case establishing that constitutional rights apply to corporations, and in the gay marriage cases reinforcing (among other things) the constitutional right to privacy.

            3. Don’t be deliberately dense. It’s very hard to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of a dead person.

              The concern here isn’t with this particular phone and you know it.

              The concern is the precedent here and the similar demands that will be made overseas should the courts not decide in Apple’s favor.

              You think my post says nothing because you simple aren’t listening. You are stuffing your fingers in your ears and reciting the mantra that makes you feel like a good guy.

              That’s totally understandable.

              I doubt many people are saying that the investigators shouldn’t attempt to get this information if for no other reason to look for clues about the involvement of others or to analyze the killers’s social graph to identify who helped radicalize them.

              It’s the coercion here that is wrong. The government is free to put out competitive bids to crack the phone which one presumes is now in their custody as evidence and of no further use to the dead owner.

              This of course begs the question. Who are they investigating? The person who ought to be prosecuted is dead.

              Therefore they are simply casting a wider net to see if the pair really acted alone. All very responsible and fully within their mandate.

              Apple should have no involvement whatever.

            4. It’s not the case that Apple shouldn’t necessarily have any involvement. Apple purposely tries to make their phone unhackable.

              It may be the case that Apple has the facility to easily crack iPhones and the government knows about this under confidential agreements like what Apple deals with with the NSA.

              Like it or not, Apple isn’t just the maker of the hardware, but of the software. The government is right to ask them to hack the phone not the least of which is because there’s court order demanding Apple do it. Unless something else happens, if Apple doesn’t comply with the court order, they will be in contempt and potenially face charges/punishment. Directors of companies in these cases can all be enjoined and held liable for non-compliance with court orders against a corporation, so if you were wondering, that’s were responsibility lays in companies in situations like this.

            5. It makes no difference if it is the hardware or the software. Apple has no duty to make the no easier unless the owner of the device asks and even then they should be able to decline if it would impact more than that one owner. If they assist they are defrauding other owners of iPhones by implying the phones are secure.

              You seem to be operating under the impression that the authorities are always and everywhere honest, or worse that the authorities are, by definition, not criminals because they are IN authority.

            6. Apple has a duty to do it. There is a court order.

              What happens next is Apple’s response to the order, which will be submitted. This will be argued in the courts.

              I agree with this:

              “The newest Apple operating systems allow device access only to users — even Apple itself can’t get in. Murderers, pedophiles, drug dealers and others are already using this technology to cover their tracks.

              Apple has often benefited from the protections of U.S. law. It has sought the protection of those laws when it is the victim of a crime. However, in this instance, the company seems to run from those same laws.”

              We all remember the Gizmodo incident. Apple sent its own “black coats” to an apartment with a person living there who was associated with the iPhone leak and intimidated the person and tried to get information from them. Apple also looked to prosecute those involved. Chen’s place gets raided by Police with a search warrant all at the behest of Apple.

              I also agree with this:

              “Apple’s acceptance of the law appears to be uneven; this is not the first time it has sought to avoid compliance with a lawful court order. In Apple’s court filings in a recent New York criminal case, it specifically stated that it was refusing to cooperate with the government and comply with a court order because doing so would cause reputational damage that would tarnish its brand: “Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand.”

              All of you fanboys drink the koolaid and think Tim Cook and Apple care about you. They don’t. They care about their brand and making money. Period.

            7. Your logic is circular. Worse, you’ve become incoherent.

              Your unquestioning docility must warm the hearts of pyschopaths everywhere. And you sit hear calling other people Kool-Aid drinkers.

              I know full well that Apple, like every other entity, LOVES the law when it is to their advantage. That should be a clue to the evil the “law” represents. Like other more obvious forms of coercion, this power is an extreme moral hazard, and each use of it begets new outrageous behaviors.

              You’ve spent a life laboring in the vineyard and now forgotten what the grape is for.

            8. dswe, as a legal scholar like you surely knows, Apple only has a duty to obey a final unappealable court order. None such exists at this point. If their lawyers can plausibly argue that the preliminary order issued by the magistrate judge is invalid, they have an affirmative duty to advise their client that it can take it before an actual Federal District Judge and, if necessary, up the appeals chain through the Ninth Circuit to the Supreme Court

            9. What are you so scared about “dswe”? Spend all day here on a Sunday writing newspapers of pure DOJ or FBI crap.

              You idiots ran fast to kill Apple, but we’re an army and Apple has more money than the govermnt to pay us all and fight you tooth and nail with the good fight. Did you realky think terorism and fear will win you this fight???? didn’t you know how you went to the county and fuskd up ?

              The backlash against the FBI and the goverment will prevail and Apple will be your woe.

          3. How did you come to the conclusion that none of us are lawyers? I graduated from law school in 1974 and prosecuted for over 30 years. I have read lots of cases over the years about the relative place of individual rights and government power.

            I have grave doubts that the All Writs Act can be applied to Apple under these circumstances. I am aware of no other statute that could be used to compel a third party to involuntary labor on behalf of the government. Certainly not to write a computer program (a document expressed in words of a language, hence speech) that expresses a meaning that is dictated by the government and repugnant to the speaker. I am not clear how the government can avoid the privacy issues involved in developing a universal burglary tool just by requiring a third party to write it rather than doing so itself.

            National security is important. So is personal security. Neither of them justifies riding roughshod over established constitutional rights.

            1. Hi TxUser:

              What constitutional rights do you see as having the potential of being infringed here? What I take is that you are referring to not privacy but the effective “forcing” of labour of engineers to write such software. Is this a correct assumption of what you’re referring to?

              There’s a few flip sides to this coin. Apple and the very engineers themselves who may be compelled to unlock the phone are the ones who have intentionally made it difficult if not impossible for people to crack the phone. Apple increased its security on the phone just a few years ago.

              One can only imagine the letters, discussions, phone calls, and meetings Apple has had with government officials/FBI over the many years they’ve been in business. What Apple did a few years ago with its security could have been partly to spite the FBI and other law enforcement/government. The FBI may have been upset with Apple’s actions and now we’re seeing them battle it out.

              The bottom line is, neither you nor I have the applicable access to information to completely understand what is going between Apple and the FBI/US government.

              I also will point out a remarkable feature of this is that Google and Microsoft also have some secure software. I realize that this case is about terrible criminal actions but there’s also lots of people using non Apple products who commit crimes. Yet, the FBI is after Apple. Perhaps other companies comply more. But…

              So there seems to be something more going on between Apple and the US government and perhaps I may have touched on it. But it’s speculation.

              Regardless, for every argument there’s a counter-argument. You should know that. The government could argue that they’re compelling Apple to labor a hack because Apple is the one that intentionally locked them out in the first place. So Apple is the blame and Apple must remedy the situation. So it’s not unreasonable to order it as such. Etc. etc.

              I’m sure we could both have an interesting coversation about this. I wish there was private messaging…

          4. dswe, you are, at worst, a complete idiot, or at least un-American: “…the Constitution is NOT ABSOLUTE in all respects.” The Constitution is the ONLY absolutely the United States; EVERYTHING extends from that. You need the learn some history!

          5. Oh Geesh! you’re really more delusional than I originally thought, let’s see where do we begin. First the FBI is DEMANDING! That a privately held company whose very soul lies in its ability to protect it’s users private data, as guaranteed by our constitution, be FORCED to cut its own throat, I personally use Apple products BECAUSE of its track record in user data protection. If Apple is forced to create a special version of their software which would allow the government to be install it “on this 1 iPhone”; then YES! I would forever question the privacy and protection of every single Apple product henceforth. The government could then clone that special OS and use it on any iOS device they desired, they could also hack that code to do considerable more damage, Apple would in effect be handing over their entire trove of security measures to BIG BROTHER, or some unscrupulous government employee could potentially gain access to that special OS. Yes, they claim they would never allow other access to this special OS, but think SNOWDEN! AIMES! And others who had access to secret government activities, and remember, this special OS would be worth Millions of $$$ to anyone who could abscond with it, and possibly be the ruin of one of the greatest companies in recent memory. So think about this before you say anymore.

      2. Democracy means government IS the people, not “politicians and law makers and law enforcement”. Whether America is a democracy remains open to debate, but this issue will be telling.

        dmz

      3. In a democracy, it is the people who are the government, not “politicians and law makers and law enforcement”. Whether America is a democracy is still debatable, but if it is, it is the people who rule, NOT the government you seem to place so much trust in.

        On another note, just because you are arrested does not make you a criminal. Under the rule of law, and yes, even in the US of A, you are not a criminal until you have been found guilty in a court of law, and the presumption of innocence is still a “thing”.

        Please explain how Apple stands to gain financially from this stand as I am a simple, un-evolved fanboy who finds your diatribe confusing.

        dmz

          1. I didn’t say it wasn’t, and I didn’t say it was a pure democracy. What I said is that in a democracy, as your constitutional republican form of government which is a type of representative democracy, the people choose how they are to be governed framed by your constitution, not the other way around – does the phrase “of the people, by the people and for the people” ring any bells?

            Good grief.

            dmz

      4. “You don’t discuss the implications of not complying.”

        That, and the implications of complying are exactly what many of the articles are about. That’s why Apple is said to be making a *stand* — precisely because there are implications.

        Apple is fully aware of and risking the implications of not complying. The govt, however, is not acting as though it is aware of the implications of what it is asking.

        Such as, the whole China angle. If the FBI prevails, China and other regimes will expect to be able to breach the privacy of iPhone users within their borders.

      5. So, brave and wise ‘dswe’, who the hell are you?

        You want to post your rhetoric as an anonymous coward.

        Instant FAIL.

        Then there are Breeze and I who at least bother to log in here. You, for all we know your General James Clapper, the bum who lied in public to Congress about the NSA’s blatant violations of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. So, until you grow a pair, shove off matey.

  2. The US government has to respect the Constitution. I am not saying it hasn’t, but If an individual (group of people or corporation) believes it hasn’t, he/she has the right/duty to bring the matter to the Supreme Court. There are many legal questions that need to be urgently settled by the Supreme Court.

    1. Yes!

      This premise:
      “We didn’t elect Tim Cook to protect privacy,’ … ‘That’s what governments are for.”
      is incredibly stupid.

      1. The government – supposedly – are simply our employees.

      2. It’s up to EVERYONE, just as it is up to everyone to protect a child being kidnapped in front of our face (if we can) or stop someone being raped or killed, or administer CPR, or maybe block traffic with our car if we see a pedestrian knocked down … etc.
      “I’ll just leave it to the officials” is not an acceptable stance, if we can do something ourselves.

    1. How does one choose between Hillary and Donald or Ted? Those are non-choices. Tim, please get into the race for President and stop the acronyms from taking over our once free country.

      Hey Minnesotans, gather at the Uptown Minneapolis Apple Store at 5:30 pm Wednesday the 23rd.

  3. The whole thing is probably futile anyway. If the phone used an Alphanumeric Code (mine does) then even if Apple was to comply with the request it would still take hundreds of years to brute force the passcode and decrypt its data.

    1. Well, it depends upon the password put into the iPhone. The longer the password, the more random the password, the more years it takes to break into the phone. (This of course is if the feds overcome the 10-tries-and-you’re-OUT! The iPhone’s erased).

      I’ve been covering the main events of this drama over at my Mac-Security blog. (Click my avatar to get to the link). The more fascinating article I’ve found so far is, oddly, from Bloomberg Business: “Secret Memo Details U.S.’s Broader Strategy to Crack Phones – Bloomberg Business”.

      MDN covered it here earlier. My favorite part is the quote below. Note who’s quoted!

      The government’s going to have to get over it,” said Ken Silva, former technical director of the National Security Agency and currently a vice president at Ionic Security Inc., an Atlanta-based data security company. “We had this fight 20 years ago. While I respect the job they have to do and I know how hard the job is, the privacy of that information is very important to people.”

      😀

  4. I wonder if the court order the government obtained to “compel” Apple to break into its iPhone should be complied as forthrightly as the government would respond? Like, take the Hillary e-mails… Look how long it has taken and they still are not all released. Note when they are released… Finally, see how the privacy of the e-mails is taken when they are released redacted.

    Should Apple respond to the court order, but in kind as the government does to “We the People”?!?

    The government would like to jeopardize the privacy of millions for the sake of a few regarding terrorists, but fights like Hell when it comes to “water boarding” the few. regarding terrorists, for the sake of millions.

    Obama likes to tout the phrase, “That’s not who we are.” Well, regarding the judiciary ordering a private company to clean up the mess created by the bueaucrats and politicians, that is also “not who we are!”

    Funny, all this dirty laundry coming about and not one laundry detergent capable enough to clean the lot of them!

  5. If the government want to compel companies like Apple to build a backdoor then go ahead and legislate for it. The law will probably end up in the Supreme Court and be decided there whether the fourth amendment applies.
    The problem is that the politicians spend most of their time trying to score points off each other than they are incapable of doing anything related to running the country.

  6. If Apple loses this case and is forced to create the alternative iOS that the FBI wants and the Apple engineers are forced to write that code for the FBI–that sounds a little bit like that things we fought a civil war over 150 years ago.

  7. 94.17% of MDN readers, NOT including ANYONE smart enough to use the MDN app! I haven’t seen one poll ever show up on the app since I’ve been using it. I think some of your stats would be wildly larger if you got word from some of those smart folks as well!!

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