Why Apple is right to resist U.S. government overreach

“The FBI wants Apple to do something no private company has ever been forced to do: break its own technology,” John Eden writes for TechCrunch.

“A magistrate judge recently ordered Apple to comply with this request; Apple in turn filed a Motion to Vacate (MTV) the magistrate’s order. The key point made in the MTV — and the key issue on which this entire case hangs — is that complying with the FBI’s request would weaken a valuable encryption platform at a time when the United States desperately needs stronger, more effective encryption,” Eden writes. “There is an arms race to create more-sophisticated, harder-to-crack encryption tools, and if the FBI gets its way, we will be running that race with a self-imposed handicap”

“This week Apple is appearing before Congress to address the issues raised above. For those unable to attend the hearings, I want to explore how Apple is thinking about the FBI’s legal authority to compel the company to create new software to crack Apple’s security measures,” Eden writes. “After exploring that legal issue, we’ll consider the broader constitutional stakes involved in this case. After all, it’s not everyday that the U.S. government is asking a private company to undermine a technology platform without providing any concrete evidence that doing so will make Americans safer.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oppose government overreach.

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
U.S. government takes cheap shots at Apple – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Obama lists the ‘tech leaders’ involved in new U.S. Cybersecurity Initiative and purposely snubs Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
U.S. government seeks to force Apple to extract data from a dozen more iPhones – February 23, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013


  1. Amazing to me is how open our government is about taking our rights and the majority of the public doesn’t seem to give a shit. Obama, top senators, and government lackeys/employees all openly say they don’t want the public to have privacy on their phones or anywhere for that matter and the citizens shrug.

    Soon we will be no different than Nazi Germany or Communist East Germany before the 90s. This country is truly doomed.

        1. Socialism a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.

          What does that have to do with a phone? FoxNews won’t even give you the real definition of the words.

          The courts and the constitution is clear on this issue. What’s in your head is yours. If you right it down it can be subpoenaed and used in a court of law. Your trash, once it’s been place out in the pickup can it’s public. Your conversation with anyone, how do you even believe that’s private, sex with your wife in your car in public, nope not private either (6 o’clock news nothing you can do). An encrypted document of your personal thoughts, nope, the document can be subpoenaed, It could be view as a document that’s in a different language, which it is, and law enforcement would of course look to translate it. They may use experts from all over the world too, so… Oh now secret is all over the world. So what makes the phone different than that document.

          You want privacy, then, into your home you must go, tell no one what’s in your head that you don’t want to get out, if you must write, then you must burn… there you go. But the phone thing, forget it. It’s not a thought, it is tangible, and can be taken and searched (legally)… and since it really does not belong to you anyway, the software,… and you know that a third party can view what’s on it (Apple), your expectation to privacy is unrealistic.

          You will have to argue personal property may not be taken. Of course, you know that’s a loser. Best solution at this point is Apple does it and only apple does it… If I were a defense lawyer, I would would raise the roof, saying anything on that phone, that show my client is not a stand up, law abiding citizen, was put there by law enforcement, Apple, an employee at apple, a hacker, a cracker, bits and bytes, they are hard to prove ownership of.

          What a mess!!!

      1. You are absolutely spot on here, Thelonious. But just try explaining to today’s youth and low-information voters that all of history’s governmental terror comes from the left, not the right: Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and the like. They’ll laugh or spit in your face. The only fact that seems to slow these ignoramuses down just a little is that “Nazi” comes from “National Socialist.” They don’t usually have a quick come-back for that.

        1. I’m not going to laugh or spit in your face but will point out that you have NO comprehension of totalitarianism. You also FAIL to comprehend that Fascism is specifically extreme conservatism, a phenomenon of the right. In other words, you fell into your own description of ignorance.

          Yes, these days, it’s remarkable how many people can’t even keep track of the utterly over-simplistic concept of the 1 dimensional political spectrum. It’s 1 dimensional and you get it wrong.

          And yes, I’ve previously pointed out to this anonymous coward ‘Randian’ person that the Nazi’s use of the term ‘National Socialism’ was for the purpose of PROPAGANDA. He didn’t listen because he doesn’t care. He just wants to live in ignorance and force his ignorance on others. He is, in fact, worse than the ‘low-information’ voters he berates. Kind of sick, isn’t it.

          1. You’re right to call people on their political BS every time. They only explain attacks on our liberties by appealing to their political theories. That doesn’t help, it only tries to validate their theories. They are groupies of a Special Cause, nothing more. I follow you in seeking more critical thinking. Perhaps the two of us could teleport back to the golden age of Greece, where the rabble were discounted from voting, and the right people got into office and enacted fair legislation. OK, end of deluded fantasy.

            1. I especially like these two political ideas from the Ancient Greeks:

              Citizens had the right to vote to banish people from the city-state every year. This helped encourage everyone to act in a civil manner.

              Administrators were drawn randomly from the voting rolls; citizen-farmers took turns fulfilling their civic duty by serving a fixed period of time as pubic administrators. There were no politicians as we know them.

        2. Randian and Thelonius: you have no understanding of the major political movements of the 20th century. Where have you been? Don’t you read?

          First, Totalitarianism, Fascism, and Nazism are arch-conservative right-wing movements. They have absolutely nothing to do with socialism.

          Second, Christianity is essentially a socialist doctrine. This idea should be self-evident to any true Christian. But it will probably throw Christian Right Wingers for a loop. (What does _that_ tell you?) However, if they reflect fervently on the words, acts, and life of Jesus Christ they should “see the light” …as the Good Book says.

          Study the world. Know the truth. Speak wisely.

          A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

      2. Creeping Democratic-Partyism and Republican-Partyism are taking us toward totalitarianism.

        Whether its surveillance, or governments constitutionally unchecked ability to spend its citizens’ future earnings, we are all being turned into slaves of the two dominant parties.

        If it were just socialists it wouldn’t be so bad.

        1. Totalitarianism is precisely where extreme right and extreme left politics and philosophy meet. The reason why is the BOTH extreme systems immediately FAIL when attempted, resulting in the desperate need to CONTROL the populace. Totalitarianism is the quick and easy method of doing so. When you see totalitarianism, you see a FAILED STATE, extreme right or left.

          1. I pity America having to get by with only two major political parties. It turns every issue into a binary debate with no middle ground. There really is no true black or white, only many shades of grey and Americans are hamstrung by their narrow-minded political system.

            1. I gave a talk last week about the Apple Vs FBI Vs US Constitution situation. Some people attending wanted to get into politics. I went over my usual point about how humans live in a 3D world and think in 3D, therefore the 1D political spectrum is ridiculous. I also did a little right hand refusing to do what the left hand wanted, and the left hand refusing to do what the right hand wanted. I pointed out that this is, let’s get real, the behavior of CHILDREN. I received applause.

      3. Socialism a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.

        What does this have to do with a phone?

        This is settled law. If you want privacy, keep your thoughts in your head. If you write them down that document may be subpoenaed, taken, and used in a court against you. If the document is in some type of code, containing your personal thoughts, it can be taken and decoded and used in court. Whatever you do outside of you house in public is public. Your trash once put out for collection is public no subpoena needed for it. You tell someone your thought, nope, not private either. Come on you know better don’t you.

        The phone is a tangible thing, not a thought, it can be taken and viewed legally. You do realize there is no expectation on privacy with this device. You don’t own the software on iPhone Apple owns the software. The data on it can be view by a third party (apple). The phone can be updated with things you don’t understand and it exchanges with a third party to do so. There is no expectation of privacy, and you know that cause you agreed to the software license.

        The constitution is clear on this manner. If you expect privacy keep your thoughts, that are private, to yourself. In-order for a phone to be treated any other way brings in the question of personal computers, personal papers, etc. forget it, courts may let you feel good for a bit, but they are not, at the end of the day, opening up this bigger can of worms cause you put naked pictures on your phone. Oh yeah, stop doing that or they may get out.

    1. Just an opinion, Obama and other government agencies say that they want citizens to have privacy and encryption, but let law enforcement to get in.

      At the minimal, give them a chance to hack at it, without deleting the information.

      It’s double speak, and I think that’s what you are referring to. It’s double speak, because Apple and many supporters realize that along with precedent, and time, the tool being asked for, will land in the wrong hands, assuming from the start that the FBI initially are not the wrong hands, which is a different discussion.

      What Apple has to make perfectly clear, is that once the tool is made, they would have to supply it to England, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Pakistan – any nation which would demand it, or face economic sanctions.

      This scenario is dangerous for everyone. The alternative, is to have additional secure ICs that store specific information and step the firewall deeper into the system.

      It would seem to me, we are on a train that is out of control. We have very little means to protect ourselves, and our ability to guaranty we are who we say we are. The system we use to get credit, buy, sell, pay taxes could collapse, if security is not addressed. With strong encryption our current system could last longer.

    2. I would guess that about 95% of the MDN readership is agreed that forcing Apple to write new software providing a backdoor for the United States Government to access a locked iPhone is a very bad idea. Doing so has the likelihood of making all iPhones insecure, with serious consequences not only for individual privacy but also for the financial system. It is even likely to make us less safe, because the risks posed to our country by enabling governments, terrorists, and individual criminals to crack iPhone encryption are greater than the risks posed by the existing secure encryption regime.

      However, just stating that without following it up is likely to have no effect on the anti-privacy movement driven by various figures on both the left and the right. We need not only a strategy of opposing backdoors, but also a tactical plan for blocking them in the real political world. From half a lifetime dealing with elected officials on a daily basis, I can see that some of the tactics that have been suggested in posts here on MDN are worse than useless.

      To start with the most obvious: contacting an elected or appointed official (or even an ordinary citizen whose support you would like to have) and telling him, “You are a gutless sham of a human being whose treasonous Communist and/or Fascist tendencies are destroying our country… and by the way, I have some legislation I would like you to support.” There is a proverb about the likelihood of catching flies with honey versus vinegar, and it also applies to human beings. If you want the Congress of the United States to pass legislation to block the imposition of backdoors, you should make an effort to cultivate their willingness to do you a favor. Insulting them will almost guarantee that they will vote against you. (The same, incidentally, applies to judges. Accusing them of being wooden puppets or on the take is not likely to help you win your case.)

      Same thing applies when responding to an ordinary citizen: “You are either a fool or a liar.” Sometimes people are simply mistaken and will respond well to being shown how the facts do not support their position. Insult them up front, and they will not hear your explanation.

      Another: “I call on your support for this as a true (Democrat/Republican/Conservative/Progressive).” Privacy and secure communications are not, and should not be, partisan issues. There are plenty of people in every party and from every point on the political spectrum who understand the issues and who support the right thing, just as there are plenty in every party who oppose the right thing. If you turn this into a party issue, particularly in an election year, you will alienate all the people in other parties who might otherwise have supported you. Excessive partisanship does not promote legislative efficiency. There is a reason that the current Congress has passed only about 220 laws, while Harry Truman’s infamous “Do-Nothing 80th Congress” had passed 900 in a comparable period. Without votes from across the aisle, you will not be able to pass legislation to block the movement towards making encryption inherently weak and hackable.

      Another: “I want you to join me, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden in standing up for liberty.” Even if you agree with what they have said and done, a lot of other people do not. Either supporting them or opposing them will divert the discussion from the merits of protecting strong encryption. For the same reason, do not allow this to turn into a debate about the NSA or GCHQ. It is enough to say that hacking by bad actors within our federal, state, or local governments is as much of a risk to private data as hacking by anyone else.

      Conversely: “I want you to join me against (Barack Obama/Donald Trump/Whoever) in fighting tyranny.” Like Assange and Snowden, these are controversial figures. Large segments of the public support them. If you turn a campaign to protect strong encryption into a referendum on any political figure, you will lose the vote of everyone out there who both supports that figure and opposes backdoors. You may think that supporting both Obama and Apple, or both Trump and Apple, is logically inconsistent, but if you expressly make that argument, your hearers are as likely to drop their support for Apple as for the politician.

      Another: “I do not live in your state or district, but I want you to vote right on this.” Do not waste the energy. No elected official gives a damn about how he is perceived outside his local voting base. Rather than writing all 535 members of Congress, write 535 letters to the three that are on the ballot in your precinct. Even that will be MUCH less effective than finding 534 other local residents you can persuade to join you in writing your Senators and Member of Congress.

      For the same reason (all politics are local): “The Justice Department position will have bad consequences all across the country.” Why should your representatives care about the consequences for people who are not constituents? Focus on the adverse consequences for the local people who can vote for or against them. Try to identify where your representative gets his support (whether bankers, industrial workers, venture capitalists, veterans, teachers, retirees, or whoever), and focus on the impacts that weakening encryption will have on those particular people. The same applies when you are seeking public support. People here in Texas really don’t care how weakening encryption will affect New Yorkers, but they care a lot about anything that will directly affect them and their neighbors. Do they want hackers to have access to their bank information, or will they oppose weakening encrypted communications?

      Another: “All this talk about strong encryption aiding child pornographers is just ’Think about the children (TM)’ garbage.” No, it isn’t. Take my word for this as a former prosecutor: when pedophiles stopped exchanging tangible photographs and started exchanging digital files with strong end-to-end encryption, they made it enormously more difficult to arrest or convict them. Child sexual slavery is not a myth. It really exists and it is largely financed through child pornography sales. Denying that is simply denying reality. The only possible way to answer the accusation is to point out that there are also dangers to children through weak encryption; “Do you want a pedophile to have access to your daughter’s cell phone location data or to the camera in the laptop in her bedroom?” It is horrible to talk about trading the safety of one set of children for the safety of another, but that is where we actually are. Don’t pretend it isn’t so.

      The same goes for the undoubted fact that other bad guys (including financial fraudsters, criminal conspirators, and terrorists) have also been greatly aided by secure communications and data storage. Again, denying that is so obviously false as to destroy the denier’s credibility on any issue. Instead, focus on how weak factory encryption on smartphones will make your hearers and their neighbors MORE vulnerable to harm, while the bad guys will still have access to strong encryption from third-party sources. Crippling iPhone security is therefore much worse than useless.

      This one particularly puts my teeth on edge: “Allowing the government to search an encrypted device pursuant to a proper warrant violates the Fourth Amendment.” Where in the Bill of Rights does it say that the information in a smartphone deserves more constitutional protection than the identical information in a filing cabinet? The government has been lawfully seizing financial records, correspondence, and even personal diaries from bedroom drawers since the dawn of the Republic. You don’t have to be an Originalist like the late Justice Scalia to understand that. In this particular case, the author of the data is deceased, the owner of the device has given consent, and a judge has reviewed sworn evidence and made a finding that there is probable cause to issue a warrant. There is no possible legal argument that accessing the phone would be an unreasonable search or seizure. Quoting a prominent Virginia slaveholder for the proposition that we should reject the chains he placed on others does not alter that simple fact.

      Having a judge force Apple to involuntarily write software or share its digital signature is horrible public policy and may very well violate other parts of the Constitution or statutes, but I just don’t see how it constitutes an unreasonable search. Because the backdoor would certainly be used in many other cases, it would facilitate illegal searches in the future and seriously undermine the general right to privacy, but that is only before the court insofar as it affects the reasonableness of the current government request and its undue burden on Apple. Arguing that accessing this particular cellphone would violate the Fourth Amendment is patently incorrect, and will undermine the credibility of the speaker on why it is a really, really bad idea for many other reasons. Focus on those concrete reasons and stay away from partisan politics, and we are much more likely to get a favorable outcome.

      1. Bravo, excellent piece of writing. I wish all Americans could thoroughly understand and follow through with your advice. I as a Canadian along with the rest of the reasonable non-American world are sitting back wondering what we could possibly do to affect the outcome of the situation. As much as this specific case is an American issue with an American company being dealt with in the American courts, the implications of an unfavorable outcome will affect the entire world.
        That said, with recent developments in France and other countries jumping on the anti-encryption bandwagon, this may not be an issue exclusively for the American courts for long. I do believe though that the results of this specific case will influence other cases around the world with similar results.
        BTW IMO you really should copy paste your comment everywhere you possibly can. It surely doesn’t belong exclusively buried on an MDN talk back. It belongs on font page of the New York Times.

      2. You see I actually do care about the privacy of people in Texas and the rest of the nation. I can very easily see that as go your rights, so go all of ours. It is just a matter of time.

        The reason that people are arguing the issues of the fourth amendment are more subtle. We want it understood that we see Apple v. The FBI as the first barrier to serious government intrusion. You are absolutely correct when you say that this case is not a fourth amendment case, in all likelihood I expect that Apple will lose for that reason.

        Imagine for a moment that I have a filing cabinet that the government cannot open. So the government commands the man who built my cabinet to build a key. Imagine that he refuses. He feels he built that cabinet to be as secure as possible. Not only do I have one, but many people have them, many who rely on the security. Still at this point, as you state, our security is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the government can force the cabinet maker to create the key. Nonetheless we the people know our government. So we are arguing the outcome which will be damage to our individual and collective security if the government gets its way.

        We feel we must look beyond in order to make the government understand what we view is at stake, which is far greater than the issue of one file cabinet. So we point out that we know there will be fourth amendment violations after this key is created. We know that precedence will be set and the poor cabinet maker will be opening cabinets left and right for the government. We know that the key will eventually find its way into the hands of criminals and foreign powers.

        I don’t want the good people of Texas to suffer this diminishment of freedom any more than I want the people of California to. The issue is ultimately one of national security, not just state or local.

        I fear the courts will not worry about what will result though, only the one phone which you cannot find fault for. If however they side with Apple, it would mean that they were willing to see the long term effects of a pro-government decision.

        I would also respectfully submit that a handheld computer knows a great deal more about you than the papers and effects in a simple drawer. I would argue that access to your electronic devices is at least as intimate as access to your physician or therapist or spouse. Maybe I’m unusual but I record a great deal about myself into my computers. In fact, I woud try to argue, were I in front of a judge on the matter, that the relationship is almost like peering into my own mind, and I do have a right to not self incriminate.

      3. Thank you TxUser for a word of sanity in this debate. The over the top rhetoric is foolish and really discredits the cause that Apple is fighting for.

        As you note, the govt. law enforcement agencies do have some good arguments, it’s not a black and white thing. It’s more a matter of where we as a society want to draw the line.

        If I were in law enforcement I very well may have sided with the govt on this issue. If I were in the FBI counterterrorism unit, I almost surely would side with the govt, knowing what they know.

        This is what democracy is all about; working these issues through. But childish and ill informed rhetoric doesn’t help.

        1. “As you note, the govt. law enforcement agencies do have some good arguments”

          no I don’t think they have good arguments at all. They have ‘legal’ arguments as TXuser points out but in my opinion they are not ‘good’ arguments as forcing apple to make a hacker os will cause a tidal wave of other crime.

          once the hack OS gets into Criminal hands (I don’t have to explain how this will happen as it has been explained over and over) they will attack bank accounts, personal info, tap into cameras, get passkeys, do ID theft, spread malware etc. on hundreds of millions of iPhones.

          If hackers tap into a phone, get personal family info and kidnap a child that’s what law enforcement want?

          Multiply this by millions of times as Obama has hinted this is just the first the step to general backdoors in tech devices which will also be hacked . The already millions of cyber crimes today like attack on banks, PCs, credit card scams, malware etc will be multiplied so that if today it’s a ‘light shower’ it’s going to be a hurricane.

          Our law enforcement which can not even deal with credit card scams today (credit card companies had to invent STRONG ENCRYPTION via ‘chip’ cards etc to solve it) their geniuses like ‘Dormant Cyber Pathogen’ DAs will be completely overwhelmed.
          Just two years ago the New York police dept said they were overwhelmed by people stealing iPhones and wiping them, they blamed Apple for the spike in crime and asked for stronger encryption ! Today stupidly New York law enforcement is asking for backdoors…

          1. actually I’m quite tired of all arguments.

            Lets just make a case:
            assume Law Enforcement has LEGAL case (I’m not saying they have in Apple/FBI but just assume in my example they DO)

            they have a warrant to search a facility:

            the owner of the facility PLUS a WHOLE HOST of EXPERTS (practically 100% of the experts in that field) say “if you break down the door an EBOLA MUTANT VIRANT WILL BE RELEASED WHICH HAVE NO TECHNOLOGY TO CONTAIN AND THE VIRUS WILL PROBABLY KILL A BILLION PEOPLE.. ”

            L. Enforcement can still stupidly say ‘but we have a LEGAL case”…

            do people think they should still break the door down?

    3. Pardon me for being a Democratic Socialist Libertarian, as well as an Apple user…

      Whatever the government is doing is disagreeing with how things are done.

      What they can do is criminal investigations. What they can’t do is be above the law.

      It isn’t fighting fire with fire. It’s having the right tools for the job.

      Hounding Apple to force them into doing something that isn’t in the best interests of the country is wrong. Something makes me think that isn’t Obama that’s doing it — someone else is making that decision, and people are quick to blame Obama for it.

      Whatever is going on is really ticking me off. This isn’t a Republican-vs-Democrat thing anymore. This is criminal investigation-vs-our right to freedom.

      It’s a double edged sword.

      1. I agree. Someone or something is forcing Obama to defend this position, weakly or otherwise. He’s bent to the positions of others in his cabinet before, and this looks like one of them. It may be that our only hope is that someone credible gets to him before it’s too late, and persuades him to drop his unflinching backing of the FBI. I haven’t known him to change his mind on any issue unless he was inveigled by an even more prestigious authority than the previous one that had held him in thrall. Barack Obama, terrified puppet — what a despicable legacy.

            1. What, he’s forced by the Secret Service to use Blackberry but his daughters get to use iPhones? Something is rotten in Denmark. I mean D.C. Besides, doesn’t he trust them? And doesn’t Michelle keep tabs on the girls, as befits a first lady? He has more important matters to attend to, like the ones he hasn’t attended to. Does a lame duck get to leave homework in the inbasket?

    4. I wrote this before. I may do it again several times. We must not let them change the language.
      They call it ‘privacy’ for individuals instead of security. National ‘security’ vs. individual ‘privacy’. We have to stop that. It is individual ‘security’, not just privacy. We are not secure if our information is compromised. Banking, buying, etc., medical info. are at stake.

      It is easier for them if it is referred to as privacy. Then you get the inane comments like “if you don’t have anything to hide, it shouldn’t bother you. WE ALL want to hide access to our banking, buying, credit cards, etc. Otherwise, we have not SECURITY.

      1. Very good, pedro. They conveniently ignore the fact that everyone DOES have something to hide, namely their banking information and medical history, their travel itinerary, their political affiliation and voting record, their religion, their matital status, their charitable donations, their private email correspondence, and their opinions about Constitutional or any other social or legal issues. All this is none of the government’s damned business. The day it becomes so is the day we enter a dictatorship.

    5. It’s the kind of extremist, over the top rhetoric that many commenters here exhibit, such as “84 Mac Guy”…that really discredits the cause of Apple.

      To compare this to the Nazi’s or Communists is really way overreaching, and frankly makes the cause of smartphone privacy look absurd. It’s also patently wrong, and shows no historical understanding of what those horrible regimes were all about.

  2. Apple is right for more reasons than can be counted here. What most government officials speaking on this don’t realize, when they attempt to trivialize Apple’s position, is how little we the public trust them, and just how incompetent we view them. This is not about a single iPhone by any stretch of the imagination. This is not about iPhones in general. This is not about how difficult it is for Apple to comply. This is about how the single biggest freedom limiting entity in the nation is seeking the tools to invade more privacy, and limit more freedom. This is about the fact that no one truly believes it will end with just one iPhone. This is in recognition of the people who purchased our freedom, our most precious political asset, with their blood. Blood is the only currency with which freedom can be acquired.

    As such when the people whose job is primarily using force against us, again seek to diminish even the slightest amount of freedom, we must be extremely vigilant. We must ask ourselves is this truly necessary? Is the amount of safety purchased with our freedom and privacy worth the blood that was shed to acquire them? I believe our founders would say, “Oh hell no.”

    We must examine the request with intense scrutiny and examine it exhaustively for Constitutionality. This is just as much an issue of our national security as combating terrorism. In fact it is more because when we exchange freedom for security, “the terrorists” have indeed won. They’ve put a dent in The United States. They’ve proven were frightened by them. It doesn’t seem like much now, but once given, that ounce of freedom will never voluntarily be offered back.

    I believe that any government official, even some dipshit sheriff in Florida, taking any action of force against Tim Cook or Apple is committing an act of war against the American people and should be prepared for in kind response.

    I believe it’s time for people to start standing up to local, state, and Federal government officials who are clearly overstepping the bounds of their authority.

  3. I was just about to message MDN about this well written article. Nice for someone to put it in a logical perspective. I doubt it will fly though, but there is hope.

    The posts here by the way have been truly wonderful, keep adding your insight folks, the MDN community is alive and well that’s for sure.

    1. I can’t help but wonder — if human rights like this are eroded by a firehose of intimidation and innuendo, is freedom of speech next?

      How do they get away with it, pissing on the Constitution? Just because it’s an election year, and being super-tough gets votes from nimrods? That’s pandering. As in whoring, selling out, doing anything to get your group into a position of power, giving the finger to your own grandmother because she’s just one vote. Votes are nothing more than notches on Satan’s gunbelt.

      1. Hello again, thanks for your comments here there and everywhere. My opinion your first question, is of course, it’s well beyond that actually. Freedom of speech does have limitations in the areas of obscenity, child pornography, speech that incites imminent lawless action, commercial speech (advertising), copyright, protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons, and slander. It’s easy to twist any of those concepts if one wants to but it’s a lot easier to control the media so that the people repeat what you feed them. Social herding is reflected in leadership and in the case of your nation, the leadership is clear, sometimes even before you elect them.

        This can all happen when society is weak and leadership is strong.

        Lao Tzu considered:

        “The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
        The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
        Next comes the one who is feared.
        The worst one is the leader that is despised.

        If you don’t trust the people,
        they will become untrustworthy.

        The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
        When she has accomplished her task,
        the people say, “Amazing: we did it,
        all by ourselves!”

        Are you from a nation of love for the planet that would have been resilient to losing a couple of buildings, or a nation that would abandon civilized and humane principles while a couple of buildings take down the whole fabric one domino at a time?

  4. If I have understood the case right, the two terrorists private phones were destroyed when found, but his company iPhone was not.

    Logic conclusion: The two private phones contained information that was not supposed to be found by FBI or anyone. Right?

    If so, why should any terrorist use a company phone as well for such sensitive data? Any idea?

    My qualified guess is, if for any reason the iPhone would be unlocked, FBI would find nothing of interest.

    I am not even a detective.

    1. At this point, there have been a number of speculative reports agreeing with your conclusion. There will be nothing on the phone, which is why the wannabe terrorists deliberately did not bother to destroy it.

      So why did the FBI blunderingly pick this phone? They can pin the word ‘terrorist’ on it. I can directly compare this to the GW Bush administration seeking out Muslims in the USA that they could label as ‘terrorists’ and put through the court system, when in fact there was no terrorism involved. I sat in on the case of Dr. Dhafir in New York whose actual crimes were sending charitable help to Iraq after the G Bush embargo was enacted, as well as poor management of his oncology practice. He was found guilty of white color crimes and given a ‘terrorist’ jail sentence. Politics as ‘justice’ is nothing new. It’s dirty tricks for the sake of public attention and sympathy.

    2. Correct. But the FBI is nonetheless exploiting this case to try to set up a legal precedent that favours their interests over those of US Citizens under the Constitution. They are looking beyond San Bernardino to what they see as a beneficent police state, one in which they can do their jobs at maximum efficiency, and one on which everyone is much safer.

      There is no such thing as a beneficient police state.

    3. C’Mon Man!! That is a far too simple explanation for any “brilliant Govt. employee” to even consider checking into!!/smirk

      I agree that using the work issued iPhone 5c for ANYTHING other than official business would eventually lead to a slip up and get them caught. Even having said that, the end to end encryption in iOS8 and 9 only works between iOS devices and from Apple server to Apple server – unreadable by no one but the distant end recipient. Anything sent to a non-iOS device goes via SMS or MMS and utilizes the carrier data and traverses the carrier servers where it is recorded and stored, probably forever, and can be accessed by “The Authorities” with a warrant. Add to that the two privately owned phones (dunno what make or model) and probably two computers that were destroyed. There should be an easily traceable digital trail to follow and get some ideas. Why hasn’t any mention been made of that being attempted.

      Now, having said all that, it is quite possible that these “bread crumbs trails” have been followed, the NSA has already broken the 5c, and the FBI and other alphabet agencies are in the process of chasing down any accomplices but keeping it secret so as not to alert them. The FBI/DOJ carryings on is just a smoke screen to divert interest.

    4. Pure speculation on your part. To do their jobs, the authorities are forced to follow every lead, no matter what you suspect may be the finding. Most level-headed people would expect terrorist investigations to be thorough.

  5. If a non-American person is under suspicion of any USA law enforcement while travelling in the USA then they can use this potential software to get their data (track movements, tap phone records).

    Thus, if this software becomes available to all countries legally or otherwise…

    If an American person is under suspicion of any of the non-USA country’s law enforcement while travelling outside of the USA then they can use this potential software to get their data (track movements, tap phone records).

    Once this software is created, I wouldn’t want to be an American travelling abroad ever again!

    1. And just wait until everyone gets a load of the corporate surveillance, customer-as-default-criminal, crap that’s built into both the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) treaties. The entire concept is totalitarian at the core: Take power from the citizens and hand it over to the government and the corporations that puppeteer them. That, of course, is entirely UN-American.

            1. Here’s a hint for them all. It’s going to reduce down to a Muslim derived ’empire’ vs an Asian (China based) ’empire’. Both sides will lose, as will life on Earth thanks to the fundamental foolishness of each. So hurry up and choose your side! Pick what kind of loser you want to be.

              [Begin Cassandra slap-back… NOW]

            2. As animals, what wondrous creatures we are! But our capabilities are so vast and diverse, while our minds remain remarkably limited in their ability to comprehend the world at large. We end up living in the little worlds inside our heads to the exclusion of quite a lot of what goes on around us. We also have, as a species, an understandable and universal sense of insecurity. We want direction and purpose and so often grab for nonsensical direction and purpose excreted out of the minds of manipulative people, believing these invented paths to be ‘true’ to an absolute extent. They we go and kill each other over these various deceptive ‘truths’. That’s our major failing point. These deceptive truths are our greatest enemy. They are inside ourselves.

    2. Our only hope is if Trump is elected. He’s indicated an inclination to toss all decisions like this to the House and Senate, even though he’s blustering like all the rest during an election campaign. Obama is an abysmal failure as a leader of a free people, allowing his policemen to run rampant and create a constitutional crisis, and Hillary is complicit, and waffling, and would be no better. Bernie Sanders maybe? — no, “socialists” can’t get elected. Wait…

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