John Oliver just smartly explained Apple’s fight against U.S. government overreach

“With Apple set to unveil a new iPhone (and more) next week ahead of its court hearing with the FBI over the encryption battle, John Oliver has a smart take on the whole tangled issue,” Chris Ciaccia reports for The Street. “The host of HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight,’ who has become increasingly relevant in debates on national issues, Oliver has come out in defense of Apple on the encryption issue… ‘There’s no easy side to be on in this debate,’ Oliver said on his show. ‘I happen to be feel the risks of weakening encryption are potentially much worse.'”

“‘This is not simple — it’s a hugely complicated story with massive implications and once we get to the end of it, you may not feel the same way you do now,’ Oliver said during the segment, which showed takes from politicians and law enforcement officials who apparently don’t understand the way technology works,” Ciaccia reports. “Oliver has certainly done his homework on this issue, one that is certain not go away anytime soon.”

Ciaccia notes, “Warning, the video has some salty language and is NSFW.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The more prominent people who line up to support Apple, the better.

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

Visit the Apple-backed today.

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. Voice of Reason, unfortunately, the people who watch John Oliver tend to be highly educated and affluent enough to afford HBO. The majority of that group likely already supports Apple.

      It the majority of the population of the United States that I worry about. Their idea of deep thinking is being able to name the entire Kardashian family . I’m pretty sure Oliver’s excellent take on this debate will not sway them.

      However, even if the majority of the smart people and dolts in this country agree with Apple in their fight with the FBI, our government doesn’t really care. In fact, our government hasn’t really cared what the citizens thought for a long, long time.

      1. Exactly, that feeling is just what Donald Trump has tapped into. It’s a sad mockery of Government now here in the US. What’s been done to the American Worker, labor laws gutted, pension plans murdered by Government Regulators and Wall Street influence and lobby dollars, just to name a few.

        Your comment on the deep thinking capabilities of the average American is especially correct. There is nothing remotely interesting about the Kardashians. It’s deeply embarrassing they are featured on American television. Everyone should aspire to live a life on a much higher plane than the Kardashians.

      2. I agree with you to a certain extent. However, Oliver does put all of his descriptive rants on YouTube for free, so it has the potential to reach a wide audience.

    2. The phone wasn’t the problem. The problem was the gun that was used to shoot people in the first place. Chasing Apple over the phone is like closing the barn door after the horses have run away. It is the guns that need to be locked down and disabled so that people who phone around and want to kill someone have no access to guns.

  1. I don’t see where it will matter much as far as who supports Apple’s position in the whole encryption fight. The government wants total access to every bit of our information on our phones, tablets and other computers and won’t be satisfied until they get access. If Apple doesn’t cave to their demands the next step is to press our elected officials in congress pass laws to force Apple and any other company to provide access to their encrypted devices in some manner that defeats encryption. These same elected officials who can’t figure out how to set the clock on their microwaves or DVD players let alone understand any technology beyond a rotary dial telephone will be creating laws which will affect our country for years to come if they can stand the numerous inevitable court challenges.

  2. I bet it really twisted MDN’s shorts to have a confirmed liberal like John Oliver offer a strong defense of Apple, while its favored “conservative” (actually, I don’t find anything conservative about people like Cruz, and I don’t think Barry Goldwater would either) Republicans call for Apple’s and Tim Cook’s heads.

      1. I have recently begun to notice that the SOP for “conservatives” on social media, when confronted with an inconvenient truth such as the fact that ALL of the remaining Republican presidential candidates have condemned Apple (and both Democratic candidates have not), is to change the subject and point in another direction. Look, you’ll get no argument from me that Feinstein is wrong; but that doesn’t change the reality that if you elect any of the Republicans for president, that you can expect them to ignore your rights to privacy and will insist on being able to access your iPhone any time they please.

            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.

              There are both smart and stupid people on both sides of the political spectrum. Neither party has exclusivity on either brilliance or buffoonery.

            1. First: Your litany of articles by MDN (a Fox “News” affiliate and known right wing site) proves nothing except that Ralph is right. All the GOP candidates have criticized Apple’s position and neither of the Dem candidates have. And you prove Ralph’s point by trying to distract from the issue.

            2. What do you expect, when the only tool in the toolbox is a hammer every problem becomes a nail.

              Reading Ralph’s message I get that he’s talking about the current presidential candy dates, Donna Trump, Hilarious Cliton, Bernadette Sanders, people like that.

              I’ll get the time zone right yet answers with a barrage of posts all with “obama” in them. This guy sure hates someone, and that’s what that country is all about these days.

              I guess every site has one.

      2. @ First ad infinitum: Here’s a little background on your idol Darrel Issa. From Wikipedia:

        Issa soon turned Steal Stopper around, to the point that it was supplying Ford with thousands of car alarms and negotiating a similar deal with Toyota. But early in the morning of September 7, 1982, the offices and factory of Quantum and Steal Stopper in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights caught fire. The fire took three hours to put out. The buildings and almost all the inventory within were destroyed. An investigation of the cause of the fire noted “suspicious burn patterns” with fires starting in two places aided by an accelerant such as gasoline.

        Adkins said Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy by 462% three weeks previously, and by removing computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. St. Paul Insurance, suspicious of arson and insurance fraud, initially paid only $25,000, according to Issa.

        The New Yorker writes that “The Ohio state fire marshal never determined the cause of the fire and no one was ever charged with a crime. According to Issa, St. Paul paid Quantum twenty-five thousand dollars, but refused to pay his claim for the Steal Stopper inventory. Issa sued St. Paul for a hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, and the two parties eventually settled out of court for about twenty thousand dollars.”

        Or from MediaMatters:
        Rep. Darrell Issa’s past includes arrests for weapons charges and auto theft, suspicions of arson, and accusations of intimidation with a gun, but you’d hardly know it from the media’s recent coverage of the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While Issa was substantially mentioned in 15 articles in the nation’s largest newspapers since the last election — including several major profiles — only one of those articles mentioned any of these allegations. Likewise, interviewers did not ask Issa about his alleged criminal past in any of the cable or network interviews he sat for during that period.

        Or from NPR:
        Another time, Issa was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon. Police found a handgun and a tear-gas gun — plus ammunition for both — in Issa’s glove compartment.

        These stories first arose when Issa ran for the Senate in 1998. An investigative reporter named Lance Williams was looking into the then-candidate’s biography.

        “He had been a soldier, and he claimed that he was part of an elite bomb detecting unit that guarded President Nixon at the 1971 World Series,” said Williams.

        Williams called up the Nixon Presidential Library, and was told that Nixon hadn’t gone to any World Series games that year. Then Williams looked into Issa’s purportedly stellar career in the Army.

        “The biography that he was providing the press in the context of his campaign was all wrong. He had a bad conduct rating. He was demoted, and a fellow soldier accused him of stealing his car,” said Williams.

        In other words, he’s a convicted law breaker, a proven liar, a disgrace to the US military, and has been arrested for grand theft and suspected of insurance fraud.

      3. I think it started during the Steve Jobs days when Steve famously said he was unimpressed by Obama. Which doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal. Most of the world is relatively unimpressed by Obama.

        Something has been going on though. The U.S. Government remains fixed on attacking Apple.

        First of all the $16 million dollars a day Apple pays in taxes is just not enough. There’s constant bitching about Apple doing something wrong, as if they were doing something illegal. In 2013 they dragged Tim Cook in to testify as to why Apple wasn’t paying more taxes.

        Then there’s the Justice Department which has had Apple in their sights forever now. The government’s attempt to install a watchdog inside Apple.

        If Black Lives Matters burned Apple’s new corporate HQ to the ground, Obama would send the Justice Department to investigate why the building was made of such poor materials.

        1. I’m not sure why you think you talk for the rest of the world, Thelonious. Having visited the UK, France, Germany and Mexico in the last 4 weeks, I can tell you first hand that Obama is well thought of in all of those countries. I was even asked why Obama couldn’t have another term (though that was likely just commentary on the schoolyard brawling of the GOP “debates”). I suspect you don’t want to know what the rest of the world thinks about those.

          And you should know that it was a court that appointed the watchdog in Apple. While courts are for sure one branch of government, I don’t think you can hold Obama personally responsible for the actions of one USDC judge. But since the SCOTUS backed that judge, unless you’re going to suggest the Roberts court is an Obama puppet, your argument has no merit.

          Your intense disdain for all things Obama is well known on this site. But to suggest that the entire US government is out to get Apple reeks of paranoia. Did you know that the Justice Dept. and the FBI are on their own inside the administration on the iphone issue? Obama came out with such tepid support for their position that it’s obvious he doesn’t agree with it, but can’t cut them down in public. As usual, he’s trying to be reasonable and let the proper channels deal with the issue. That should be Congress, but since the harshest criticism of Apple on the privacy issue is from the GOP, I suspect that won’t go the way you want. Interestingly, the NSA director plus 3 past NSA directors plus a former FBI director plus former Homeland Security secretaries are all on Apple’s side.

          Some of your posts suggest that you’re an intelligent fellow. But others, like the one above, create uncertainty on that.

          1. Tepid? Obama is a lame duck with nothing to lose but his legacy. Why try to placate his Justice Department? It makes no sense for him to act like such a weakling, showing zero leadership, in a showdown about the very Constitutional values that he prides himself upon. Proper channels don’t work as designed when they are like loaded dice, as very clearly are.

    1. The Republicans seem to be coming around quicker than the Dems. (I’m a Democrat but try to be impartial.) Even South Carolina Governor Lindsay Graham, not known particularly for his smarts, has done an about face once he absorbed what his tech community advisers told him.

      1. Not quite. Graham changes his rhetoric as the wind blows.

        Interestingly, the Republican leadership in both houses of legislature are ducking for cover, unwilling to do anything. Least of all their jobs. By now we could have a complete Supreme Court, but no, it seems Republicans are scurrying to their smoky back rooms to plot Trump’s murder.

        Meanwhile the spineless democrats are putting all their spare cash on the Hillary bets in Vegas, where they spend most of their time anyway.

        If voters weren’t so distracted with the latest pop tarts and the size of Kardiashian’s ass, perhaps they would vote out the bums from both parties, hire some representatives that are honest and independent, and then DC would work as intended.

        Working as intended: on behalf of the people, not corporate playmakers, including Apple. Corporations should be free to recommend, but not to fund brainwashing campaigns that render the populace a dumb race of consumer idiots as they are trending to be.

        1. I haven’t heard that Graham “blew back” from the encryption issue yet. He isn’t likely too since it was explained to him, like all government officials as if they are children.

          Your post is rife with Strawman side comments into the wild blue political yonder. We are only talking about one issue, not a litany of Republican or Democrat grievances.

  3. I support Apple on this matter, no-one should be compelled to write software if they don’t want to. But I have this question: How many of the strict constitutionalists on this forum are enraged that Apple is willing to share iCloud backups of your data with government authorities, just for the asking? I’ve seen no discussion on this.

    If you’ve followed the issue, Apple shared the last iCloud backup with the FBI, made 6 weeks before the shooting. Everyone happy with this?

    1. Apple has a legal responsibility to offer evidence in their possession in response to a legal subpoena. Just like the telephone company, cable company, internet provider, bank, doctor, grocery store, etc.

      This case hinges on Apple being compelled to write code to create a hack that allows access to an encrypted device – code that does not yet exist. The legal roots of that are quite different. One way of looking at it is that It would be as if the FBI could compel you to drive your car through the door of your neighbor’s house so they could get inside – possible harm to you, and you should have the right to not participate. And as for compelling Apple to create future operating systems to have backdoor access, it would be like forcing all companies that create real or software barriers to enable access. For example, anyone making a door, or safe, or lock, or window for sale in this country would also have to provide a copy of the key to the FBI, or to show up to physically open that thing for them.

      The FBI is welcome to figure out how to break into the phone on its own. They cannot compel Apple to do that for them.

  4. I watched the full video. Very well done. The last part included a spoof of an Apple commercial that was so funny I almost sprayed my coffee all over my desk. Funniest thing I’ve seen in years!!!

    1. Sure, like that will work. Apple bugs iOS users incessantly to update whether it’s to any benefit to them or not. Even with old hardware that can’t take advantage of the new features, Apple tells users they must update.

      Apple has long since abandoned the good practice of separating security updates from feature releases, and advising users whether their hardware can benefit from the update.

      …but don’t tell the MDN crowd. To them, a bigger iOS number must be better.

      On the Mac side, 10.6.8 remains the gold standard. Every OS since then has been more pain and trouble than they are worth.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.