The FBI has a big ulterior motive in its war against privacy and Apple’s encrypted iPhone

“When a public interest group wants to create new legal precedent, its first step is to find a client with sympathetic facts,” Jay Edelson and Christopher Dore write for Quartz. “None of this is improper—it’s a strategic approach for cause-oriented litigation.”

“But the public may not realize that the government employs this legal tactic as well,” Edelson and Dore write. “And that’s exactly what is happening behind the scenes in the fight between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.”

“The FBI has apparently decided that it’s time for federal law to change. So its officials have been searching for a particular case that would give them a shot at changing the established legal precedent,” Edelson and Dore write. “The San Bernardino shooting case offers a promising avenue. The FBI has hitched its strategy to create legal precedent to a widely reported terrorist attack. Few people are concerned about maintaining the privacy of Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone; a lot of people are worried about national security. And so the FBI found a way to market its case to the general public as well as the courts and political leaders.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

The friends and family members of the San Bernadino terrorism victims should be incensed that the U.S. federal government is using those tragic deaths in a despicable ploy to sway a confused portion of the public to support the trampling of their rights.

Those who wrongheadedly agree with these supercilious disingenuous government hacks need to realize that they are working to deliver exactly what the terrorists wanted to achieve with their murderous rampage: Eroding freedom.

Don’t be blind. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be weak.

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

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        1. Ohhh, PUH-LEASE, Bo. Yes, things were sooooooo beautiful under Bush. I remember all the unicorns and butterflies. (Oh wait. That was a drug-induced hallucination. I remember now. He actually crashed the world’s economy.)

          No. Some kind of answer is needed to ensure that government actually serves the people in general, rather than acting as the paid-for lap dogs of the ultra-rich.

        2. A coup would be to overthrow the government, no way, that’s treason. Just get rid of the fbi/doj and start over again with their mission being to protect and SERVE the citizens of the United States of America instead of themselves, polititions and the corporations.

        3. What if the “coup” is to correct the wrongs that career political hacks on both sides of the aisle have left us with? That wouldn’t be a bad thing, right? Which would you like to overthrow: The government of what is today or return it to the tenets of the government that this country was founded on “limited government & rights of the people”? There is a distinction and one might be able to say that the government of today has been overthrown by the power brokers of K street and Wall Street and the two Political Parties. Why do you think the label “Establishment” has cropped up to the bewilderment of those career types in DC?!?

        4. That “protect and serve” is hard to come by. Think of the number of police cars with that, or something similar, painted on the side, where the car rolls up, a cop jumps out and blows a kid away. The idea is good, but the message keeps being lost.

          Ubiquitous video witnesses may be helping to change that. I do think cops should be limited to 5 round in the magazine and a three magazine total carry. Maybe they would think harder about how necessary the next shot was to resolving the situation.

          And I really find the idea of the FBI trying to use a tragedy to advance an internal agenda to be offensive. The idea that citizens should surrender their rights to make it easy for law enforcement to “protect the nation” seems pretty fraught with risk.

        5. So you want to willingly infringe on a law enforcement officer’s 2nd Amendment rights? Hey, I’m all for it, but the NRA won’t. The NRA argues that everyone – criminal, homeowner, law enforcement — should just pack as much heat as they can afford. May the best armed person win!

          So while clearly there is an arms race between criminals and police, it seems to me that the people demanded more law enforcement. Legislatures from coast to coast have been working their asses off to keep crime rates down, incarceration rates up. I think it’s just the overreaction to the selective under-policing that occurred in the USA for the previous two centuries.

          Well into the 1950s, America endured vigilante justice, with thousands of lynchings. Tens of thousands of lynchings happened in the American south in the late 19th century. Vigilante justice.

          It wasn’t until the 1960’s that desegregation — the active undoing of centuries of racial crimes — was enforced by your big bad federal government. Federal law and eventually state law have been working for decades trying to reform law enforcement, but then two things happened: 1) Reagan’s war on Drugs, and 2) Bush’s war on anything that could be labeled Terrorism.

          That’s when things went batshit crazy. Law enforcement is now paranoid and militarized to the max.

          So yeah, reform is needed to protect innocent citizens from LEO overreach. But the reality is, almost all police interactions are peaceful. The number of bullies in law enforcement is dropping. The number of policemen killed in the line of duty is approximately 150 per year and stable. The statistics of those killed by police are all over the map because of the political situation, but most reasonable estimates seem to indicate that police are staffed and managed at a level that the majority of the public likes. Except the libertarian extremists. They want to eliminate all law enforcement and go back to vigilante justice. Arm yourself now, Obama is gonna take yer guns!

        6. Geez, every day there are thousands upon thousands of police officers doing an ethical job to protect and serve. What you site is extremely rare. Get real please, your brush is far to broad.

        7. Intellectually, I know you are correct. But my stomach still churns when I have to interact with law enforcement, because I never know if this is “the one”. And neither do you.

          But the thousands of good law enforcement officers bring the distrust on themselves every time they tolerate misconduct by other officers and every time they falsify a report to cover a negative truth. Trust must be earned and protected. The Thin Blue Line must be erased.

          From London in the 1830s

          The Nine Principles of Policing.:
          1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

          2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

          3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

          4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

          5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

          6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

          7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

          8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

          9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

          As police historian Charles Reith noted in 1956, this philosophy was radical when implemented in London in the 1830s and “unique in history and throughout the world because it derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-operation with the police, induced by them designedly by behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval, respect and affection of the public”. Apparently, it remains radical in the United States.

    1. My sense is that the work cultures at specifically those two agencies have become self-destructive.

      With FBI Director James Comey we have someone who is only interested, at least in his public speaking and writing, in the emotional aspects of this situation. As I’ve posted around here before, he berates We The People as being the equivalent of Chicken Little, screaming hysterically that ‘The Sky Is Falling’. Then he, himself pulls ‘The Sky Is Falling’ stunt himself, attempting to pull at people’s heart strings with the meme of ‘TERRORISM!!!!’. He almost entirely ignores the legal aspects of what he’s asking Apple to do. Instead, he wants an emotional response for all of us AND the US courts. The guy is playing MARKETING GAMES.

      If indeed FBI Director James Comey is a marketing guy, as opposed to a productivity guy, that explains everything. The DOJ apparently has their own Marketing-As-Management nightmare in Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

      Therefore, my best guess is that Marketing-As-Management is wrecking the ships of both departments on the rocks of stupidity island. They don’t actually know how to manage or to adhere to the legal restraints of their departments.

      Either I’m hyper-sensitive to this management dilemma, or it’s a whopping huge problem across the scope of organizational management in general. I certainly come up with plenty of excuses to jabber on about it.

      1. silverchicken doesn’t have an opinion. he/she/it just attacks anyone who doesn’t parrot the MDN position. brainless dork with nothing better to than polish Cook’s little willy.

    2. So people and others besides Apple can’t have an agenda? They can’t have a strategy?

      Again, what is specifically wrong with wanting to set a precedent… What’s “evil” about it… Or is it with good intentions because law enforcement is having trouble getting information in criminal cases… And that there’s no conspiracy or otherwise.

      Also, Apple, and not the government, has kicked up this bit about legislative changes. Apple is the one who chose to challenge the court order. If you want to blame anyone for the possibility of legislative changes, blame Apple. If they followed the Court Order, this wouldn’t be an issue right now.

      Additionally, the government isn’t really seeking legislative changes. They’re sticking with the AWA as it is and relying on it to have the Court Order upheld.

        1. all you ever do is troll, silverhawk. not a damn bit of useful debate from you, ever. go back to your corner and let adults discuss real issues.

        2. If you are an adult, then explain how and why you think it is in any way productive to address another forum member as a troll. You’ve the one who can’t stick to the issues.

      1. Apple is saying that a dramatic change that is contrary to existing law and the Constitution should not happen from an ex parte court action. Hardly an unreasonable position to hold. You seem to incessantly argue that Constitutional rights (or human rights, generally) are not a thing.

        1. Did Apple make a Constitutional argument? Their motion referenced CALEA, which is a 1994 telecommunications law. It’s the simplistic blogosphere that doesn’t have the knowledge of applicable law that immediately starts at the top and makes sweeping judgements based on their personal interpretation.

          We’ll find out Monday if Apple has any new hardware worth buying. We’ll find out next month if Apple’s lawyers are any good at following the complicated maze of legalese that 250 years has produced.

  1. Thing is, the FBI’s strategy is currently backfiring.

    1) The lawmakers could decide on strengthening privacy, making end-to-end encryption widely, easily and legally available to anyone.

    2) The lawmakers could decide in FBI’s favor and require a ‘backdoor’. This would encourage interested persons (which includes pretty much all the bad guys law enforcement wishes to catch) to pursue alternative means of encryption or communication. Those may be illegal, but I doubt career criminals would care about that.

    In any case, the situation would be worse for law enforcement. It would have been far more advisable for the FBI to keep the current status of muddle, instead of making things clear-cut.

    1. Nobody needs a new law to use end-to-end encryption. That’s just called freedom. No permission needed.

      Real national security (I.e. Not the FBI) will never let the government outlaw hard encryption. They have already come out against the FBI’s position.

      1. Precisely!

        Apple undermines its own argument by actively doing the encryption themselves. If the iPhone owner had half the encryption key, and complete control over what does and doesn’t get encrypted and stored on Apple’s (or whoever’s) servers, then the FBI would truly have no choice but to pound sand.

        Problem is, Apple admitted in its own motion that they could unlock an iPhone. They designed the encryption, they can open it. Thus they are bound to do so when served a valid warrant. If Apple had designed its phone so that Apple really couldn’t decrypt your data, then everything would be different.

        Slightly off topic: Apple wants it both ways. They want to sell users the illusion of complete privacy. They propose that automatically bricking an iPhone after 6 password attempts is a good security feature. But they don’t give the user control. Most iPhone owners have no idea that they could lose all their iPhone data if they overrun the password attempts. What if the user really wants only 3 password attempts, or 100? Futhermore, while selling the phone as being secure, Apple refuses to offer it to your iCloud backups. Apple, just like all cloud service providers, datamine your iCloud backup, share it with advertisers (iAd anyone???), and yes, give it freely to law enforcement or the RIAA upon request.

        For these reasons and many more we do not use the iCloud. We encrypt our own data. You should too, rather than just assuming that Apple has your best interest in mind. They don’t. Cook is there to sell more units. He’s not like Jobs, caring about user experience above all else. To Cook, it’s all business. That’s all he gets paid to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Fighting the FBI is all about establishing the Apple brand as a replacement for Blackberry’s secure/private position in the marketplace. It remains to be seen if Apple will prevail. I suspect, despite many of you not agreeing with me, that the court will decide a narrow ruling to tell Apple to unlock the phone. Courts have made other companies do much more in order to comply with a valid warrant.

  2. Beautifully put:

    …”And so the FBI found a way to market its case to the general public as well as the courts and political leaders.”

    This is, of course, the Age of Marketing. Gawd help us.

    New Nifty News! From TIME magazine:

    Here’s the Full Transcript of TIME’s Interview With Apple CEO Tim Cook

    Here is MacNN’s coverage of the interview at TIME article:

    Tim Cook in Time: US government is ‘lying about our intentions’

    If FBI Director James Comey did himself and his agency a great public good by striking a conciliatory tone about the FBI’s dispute with Apple under oath at the recent congressional hearings, recent filings and public comments by the Department of Justice — in particular, it’s latest brief with the court, which ratcheted up the accusatory rhetoric, going as far as to question Apple’s patriotism — has not only undone that goodwill, it may have set any resolution back catastrophically. In a cover story for Time magazine, Apple CEO Tim Cook echoed his SVP and General Counsel Bruce Sewell, saying he was “deeply offended” by the recent filing. . .

    Please just resign, FBI Director James Comey.

  3. No surprise here at all, it’s really a question on how ugly they will get and how tenacious Apple will stick to its principles. I’m pretty sure under Tim Cook’s leadership Apple will hold firm all the way.

    1. … all the way until when? This case could go to the Supreme Court. Which makes it all the more critical that someone with technical insight is confirmed to the SCOTUS as soon as possible. Waiting until Hillary or Donald is president would be a big mistake. I don’t trust Hillary, and Donald is completely technologically inept and anti-Apple.

      So vote 3rd party if either of these clowns are the only two choices come November. Right now, primary voters need to get a clue and vote Bernie or Kasich, the last sane candidates from the corrupt two parties.

  4. The politicians and ringmasters of the United States seem unaware that the push to strip citizens of privacy by facilitating ease of access to devices will equally expose themselves and their own nasty secrets. Breaching walls with many holes does not assure specific, or one way access.
    American citizens do not seem overly skilled at interpreting attitudes and opinion beyond their borders. Whether through hubris or insularity is arguable, but the time will arrive when they must be part of a larger understanding of humanity, its function, and aims. So, with respect, I offer this letter from a very ordinary New Zealander for consideration.

    An open letter to all American people.

    The United States of America has manufactured a special brand of insanity which threatens people world wide with an unacceptable form of police state, political domination, and corruption. Your misplaced righteousness and bombastic selfishness has proven more destructive than that of your perceived enemies, and caused more casualties, domestic and global, than those enemies have ever done.
    You don’t have the right to own or control the world. In time, the citizens of this world will assemble a ruling body acceptable to them, which will function for the benefit and equality of every region and person within. Your place in this assembly will be proportionate and subjective.
    Until that time, you may not presume to bully, influence, or regulate other sovereign nations, its citizens, nor how they choose to function.
    Your brand of aggressive brinkmanship jeopardises us all, incurring a “Dark Age” of social, political, and financial instability, which will intensify the scorn, mistrust, and ridicule of your nation, its leaders and its people.
    You can sell Coke, Windows, Ford, and Apple products world wide, but your politics and dysfunctional social order are a flawed product, unwanted by the rest of civilisation. Your pompous over-reach will serve only to accelerate considerations of global governance.

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