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Apple vs. the Government: An Opinion

This is more a Twitter thought than anything, but I definitely have more than 14o characters to type regarding my opinion about an article that cites President Obama as saying “If, technologically, it is possible to make an impenetrable device where there is no key, no door at all, how do we apprehend the child pornographer, how do we disrupt a terrorist plot?”

I’ll begin by saying that I fully support law enforcement in tracking down and arresting criminals who hide within the virtual Fort Knoxes of their phones and other encrypted devices.  Pedophiles, terrorists, drug/human traffickers, and scum of a similar sort need to be off the street and behind bars.  I think any reasonable American citizen would agree.  What I have an issue with is this:

He cited the fact that law enforcement can get a warrant to search your room, “rifle through your underwear,” if you are suspected of terrorism, and yet your phone is somehow off limits.

“It’s fetishizing our phones above every other value, and that can’t be the right answer.”

I don’t see an issue in American citizens wanting to keep the government out from snooping on our devices.  I’m not an Apple fan, but I wholeheartedly support their devotion to maintaining the security and encryption of their software and phones, even in the San Bernardino case.

Why?

Because it’s been proven that we can no longer trust our government with having access to our information, given permission or not.  How many years did the NSA collect and collate our data with secret court orders from secret courts and no civilization authority or knowledge?  The good faith between government agencies and the average American is gone now.  Once that trust is eroded, it’s extremely hard to get back.

I wish there was a way for the government to have access to an individual’s devices in specific cases and under independent oversight.  A case such as the San Bernardino case is the perfect example of a situation where I wish the government could have access to that device in particular.  But if Apple were to create a backdoor for the government to access that single phone, how many other phones would be vulnerable without any proper cause?  Prior to learning of the depths the NSA went to in regards to spying on its own country’s citizens, I’d have said, sure, go ahead, give the government the backdoor it needs to get the evidence it wants off that phone.  But the trust is gone, and that burden is on the government.

So I take offense when Obama says “It’s fetishizing our phones above every other value, and that can’t be the right answer.”  Is it truly fetishizing our phones because the trust is gone and the average American values his or her privacy?  Or has the government shot itself in its own foot by proving it can’t be trusted with such access?

The sad result is that the American public is much less willing to allow the government to access tools it could use to bring justice to the few bad apples out there in the country, because the good will has been taken advantage of and expended.  Unless there can be a definitive way for Apple and companies like it to create a tool that very positively gives the government access only to a single device, I’m going to have to side with Apple on this issue purely out of a belief that the benefits to the many outweigh the benefits to the few.  Nor is it fair to make the claim that we as a population are fetishizing our phones when in reality we only want the simple right to privacy.

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