A federal judge has ordered Apple Inc to provide software to the Justice Department to help it unlock a phone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino, CA, terror attack because investigators suspect the device may hold critical details of the plotting behind the mass murder.
The government’s justification is this:
Law-enforcement agencies say companies such as Apple make it harder to solve crimes including terrorist attacks, child abuse and murder by putting security measures on phones that make it difficult or impossible for investigators to open them and examine data inside.
That’s an entirely valid concern.
The problem, though, is that forcing a back door into citizens’ communications encryption utterly destroys citizens’ privacy and security. There’s nothing to prevent Government from abusing that back door to engage in snooping on general principles and then actively and maliciously snooping in order to preserve the power of the men then in Government. The lawlessness of the present administration demonstrates that progression.
Of immediate effect, though, is that a backdoor for Government is a backdoor for hackers, whether these be script kiddies, terrorist hackers, financial or identity theft hackers, or any other sort.
The privacy and the security of our private identities, of our finances, of our health records, of any aspect of our lives we find useful to protect from prying eyes are critical to our ability to engage with our neighbors and our businesses and our government free from threats or attack.
The privacy of our communications, the security of our speech, must absolutely be preserved. There is no security at all without our individual liberties, of which speech is one, held secure.
“Law-enforcement agencies” and this Federal judge know this full well. And they know full well the truth of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s statement in his letter posted to Apple’s Web site:
We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack.