After Apple, Obama administration’s War on Privacy targets Facebook’s WhatsApp

“While the Justice Department wages a public fight with Apple over access to a locked iPhone, government officials are privately debating how to resolve a prolonged standoff with another technology company, WhatsApp, over access to its popular instant messaging application, officials and others involved in the case said,” Matt Apuzzo reports for The New York Times.

“No decision has been made, but a court fight with WhatsApp, the world’s largest mobile messaging service, would open a new front in the Obama administration’s dispute with Silicon Valley over encryption, security and privacy,” Apuzzo reports. “WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, allows customers to send messages and make phone calls over the Internet. In the last year, the company has been adding encryption to those conversations, making it impossible for the Justice Department to read or eavesdrop, even with a judge’s wiretap order.”

“As recently as this past week, officials said, the Justice Department was discussing how to proceed in a continuing criminal investigation in which a federal judge had approved a wiretap, but investigators were stymied by WhatsApp’s encryption,” Apuzzo reports. “‘The F.B.I. and the Justice Department are just choosing the exact circumstance to pick the fight that looks the best for them,’ said Peter Eckersley, the chief computer scientist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on digital rights. ‘They’re waiting for the case that makes the demand look reasonable.'”

“Those who support digital privacy fear that if the Justice Department succeeds in forcing Apple to help break into the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, the government’s next move will be to force companies like WhatsApp to rewrite their software to remove encryption from the accounts of certain customers,” Apuzzo reports. “‘That would be like going to nuclear war with Silicon Valley,’ said Chris Soghoian, a technology analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The U.S. government’s War of Privacy must stop or the only thing Orwell will have gotten wrong was the year.

FBI could demand Apple source code and keys if iPhone backdoor too ‘burdensome’ – March 14, 2016
Obama criticized for ‘tone deaf’ comments at SXSW regarding Apple’s fight against government overreach – March 14, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
John Oliver just smartly explained Apple’s fight against U.S. government overreach – March 14, 2016
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa at SXSW: ‘Hold your iPhone a little bit higher, so the FBI can hear us better’ – March 14, 2016
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. Congressman Darrell Issa: The FBI should try to unlock shooter’s iPhone without Apple’s help – March 2, 2016
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on Apple vs. FBI: Very scary when your government wants to know more about you – February 24, 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. Somebody at the State Department needs to call the Justice Department to explain that WhatsApp, iMessage, and similar secure messaging apps are how opposition groups communicate in states we regard as dictatorships and terror sponsors. If Justice succeeds in weakening the encryption, our nation’s enemies will have another tool to suppress any movement towards democracy.

  1. So it’s a war on privacy now? Funny how it always becomes a war for that country, you would think that they have a real passionate compulsive fetish for it.

    And you’d probably be right, they have no desire for peace. Remember that, it’s part of their history, it’s part of their DNA (Destructive Nuclear Arsenal).

    Also remember that peace and love will prevail.

    1. I agree…this rhetoric is over the top.

      The President is right in that no other aspect of our lives is totally protected from government intrusion with a proper court order. The police may come into my house with a search warrant…I cannot imagine anything more intrusive on my privacy than that. The govt can with court order gain access to my financial records, wiretap my landline phone, etc.

      I side with Apple on this, but this rhetoric of making this the most cataclysmic issue of all time is absurd, and is going to turn people off and drive them to side with law enforcement.

      Quite frankly, the issue of climate change is a far more pressing danger by far. But the GOP won’t acknowledge basic science.

      1. Thanks wade and this is why this issue is so poignant. I’m not from there but from what I understand with a warrant the authorities can pretty well search everything, your house, car, personal records and so on and that’s fair enough they are looking for evidence in a crime. This technology, that of an encrypted iphone makes it unsearchable with the technology we have today. That’s pretty well a first and it’s a great empowering feature for people’s privacy, yes for good and bad. The privacy protects a lot of people, and at the same time allow for nefarious elements to use that technology for their own purposes. It’s a double edge sword, like any technology.

        We can all come up with “if” scenarios to support either side of the debate, and at the end of the day it will be up to the individual countries how they wan to proceed.

        The issue of climate change is not one to worry about. When it becomes to the point that even a politician from that country will recognize it and set up a committee to determine a climate tax on the citizens or declare war on the climate, as it seems apt for that nation to do, it will already be taken care of. Gaia’s been dealing with climate well before humans walked the earth and I think she can manage just fine, with a little help from the sun.

        1. Earth abides, despite uncounted eons dominated by trilobites, uncounted epochs dominated by terrible lizards, uncounted eras of abuse by primates. Even if humanity is snuffed out in a solar flare or nuclear firestorm, Earth will abide. I can’t cry for Argentina, or the US, or the Earth after our species’ insane self-deception. It isn’t even our fault; it’s either God’s or Evolution’s doing. In the end it doesn’t matter, unless you believe in an afterlife. I have imagined that, and it scares me. Does anyone really believe the Saints are going to overlook your moral transgressions and let you into heaven? Show me the person who is pure as the driven snow, and I’ll show you a politician.

      2. And neither will the opposition hold accountable government funded labs and universities, government agencies and their scientists who have been caught altering data to suit their agenda. Wanna be fair you have to be fair to all sides!

  2. “Yes, we can’t.”

    Nearly eight years of this globalist obscenity, the nightmare is nearly over unless the electorate installs another one just like him: The Pantsuit Succubus. Hopefully, the giant has finally awakened from his Sorosian-induced slumber.

      1. Since the installation of George “A new world order is coming into view” Bush, Trump is the first candidate to put American sovereignty above globalism. The preservation of American sovereignty ensures the Bill of Rights will remain intact and that’s good enough for me and my vote.

  3. It’s interesting how people use the President’s name when they want the to label something bad.

    The DOJ functions independent of any president’s direct influence. Only republicans believe the president is to force the direction of an investigation, Nixon comes to mind.

    Funny, it is to me, that when Cook took over apple he ran the Washington to meet the the republicans leaders in Congress. Interesting, to me too, is he uses the, “the President needs to show leadership on this issue” phrasing, I remember the former republican speaker of the house whining that everyday. Odd that leadership is only given credit if it agrees with the republican position.

    The president must not interfere in this investigation. Apple should get on with opening the phone. There is no expectation of privacy with these devices. Apple owes the software, Apple knows the encryption methods being used, Apple updates the phones software. Apple is a third party and iphone users know someone else has access to their information, Apple. Apple repairs the phone and when giving a customer a replace Apple transfers the data to the new phone. Do they crush the old phone before the customers eyes. hmm?

    The government has subpoena power. You need to change the constitution if you don’t like that.

    So, ok Cook doesn’t want engineers at apple to do it, then the government subpoenas code, engineering design plans, engineers… the DOJ has been nice about this and responsible. There have been no transfers to Quantanamo Bay of Apple employees …. yet. But republicans will tell you what apple is doing is providing a safe heaven to America’s enemies, and that this is treason and a trip to the bay may not me out of order for Mr. Cook, if he does not comply with a legally issued court order.

    1. They’re also providing a safe haven to America’s allies. Mr. Cook doesn’t have the knowledge to open the iPhone, what would sending him to Guantanamo do? Apple employees are under no legal obligation to follow any of his orders even if he tells them to decrypt the phone.

    2. So Republicans are the problem? Are you stupid? Have you not realized by now that it is the Obama administration that is demanding Apple create the backdoor?

      Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone

      Here’s the truth that gets almost everybody angry: Obama, Trump, and most of the established elected Senators and Representatives HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION ON THIS ISSUE. That is, they knowingly lie by stating that the FBI wants to unlock “only one phone” while full well knowing that they (the FBI via the Obama administration; it would be the same if, say, Bush or Clinton were still in office) are asking for a master key to unlock ALL iPhones.

      Please stop trying to make this a political issue. We should all be alarmed that the majority of our so-called leaders of both major parties are willing to ignore the majority opinion of Americans on this issue.

      The issue of personal privacy should be of paramount importance to all of us, regardless of how we vote. Put your partisan politics aside and look at the facts, as painful as this will be to you.

      1. The Patriot Act: that was over reach.

        But the constitution is clear, even without the Patriot Act, this has nothing to due with what the President is “demanding”. The law is clear, search warrant and subpoena legally pursued and executed are how the courts and law enforcement get private information.

        You must change the constitution. The President must follow the law. DOJ must follow the law.
        You need to think about what it would do to past cases as well, where the government has used warrant or subpoena…
        you’ve got 50 states to go, have at it, change the constitution, that’s legal… good luck.

        Just a heads up, when you buy a lock from home depot or lowes, the keys … ask somebody…

    3. “…The DOJ functions independent of any president’s direct influence. Only republicans believe the president is to force the direction of an investigation, Nixon comes to mind..”

      There is a litany of cases of the DOJ under the Obama Administration basically just carrying out his wishes. The last two attorney generals are just Obama cronies.

    4. “The DOJ functions independent of any president’s direct influence.”

      Tell me….. you really don’t belive that statement do you? Holder was to Obama as Ashcroft was to Bush… have you forgotten that or did it make its way down the memory hole? The Department is headed by the US Attorney General, who is nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate and is a Cabinet member. Presidents don’t talk to their cabinet members? Heaven only knows what is said in those meetings! Presidents don’t have any direct influence over Departments who they personally chose the man/woman that leads it? Only in a perfect world!

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