Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tempest In A Sanctimonious Apple

"We have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists. When they commit unspeakable acts like the tragic attacks in San Bernardino, we work to help the authorities pursue justice for the victims."
"Apple is a uniquely American company. It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that government is meant to protect." "[But] this case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government's order we knew we had to speak out."
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Inc.
Apple's fight with the FBI
"We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That's it."
"We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land."
James Comey, director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington
"This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information [Apple should assist the U.S. government's wish to hack into a locked iPhone, in the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack]."
Bill Games, former head, co-founder, Microsoft
Apple protest
A demonstrator outside the Apple store at the Grove shows a "digital sign" in support of Apple's resistance to help the FBI. 
(Sarah Parvini / Los Angeles Times)

He's out of the game that other vast conglomerates and their chief operating officers are still headily involved in, but his opinion still has a good measure of clout, if not now as a highly respected computer-giant-software entrepreneur, then as a philanthropic philosopher whose billions derived from the world-wide-web have been put to inestimable good use universally. So, while Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google are all averse to ceding to a government request to enable them to investigate possible links to Islamist terrorism through their platforms, Bill Gates stands foursquare for co-operation in this instance.

Tim Cook may talk a good line about lack of sympathy for the jihadi agenda, but he sees greater facility of purpose in denying investigative intelligence authority the means by which they may use the advanced technology of the Apple iPhone as a conduit to that intelligence. For one thing, defiance of government is hugely popular, particularly in the field of perceived intrusions into privacy, and a corporation such as Apple balancing its reputation on integrity and loyalty to its client base through their guarantee of privacy fits the bottom line as a superior public relations strategy.

While stating on the one hand that "it does not feel right" (thus establishing their selective patriotism) to defy government through a specific request bolstered by a court order, it is to Apple's credit among its clients that it poses as a protector of their security issues in a world where intrusiveness has been the subject of a colossal backlash from people addicted to their interface with online services and Internet social platforms, where in fact, they don't one whit mind unleashing on the world all their private concerns and actions which portray them as the noble and high-minded citizens that they reveal themselves to be.

So, Tim Cook loftily proclaims his pride in his and his company's decision to never to risk the "security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people", who happen to be their clients, just for the possible chance that in allowing the FBI to hack one device owned by one erstwhile American citizen whose dalliance with fanatical Islamism caused him to take the lives of an unfortunate number of his co-workers. If the FBI hope to be able to link others within the community where the atrocity took place, or further afield, to the crime to alert them to the possibility it might be repeated, they can bloody well use other means.

The plea by FBI director James Comey that Apple owes this concession to the victims of the San Bernardino assault has fallen on the unconvinced ears that have balanced all the pros and cons and found that plea wanting even if it means that the FBI "can't look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don't follow this lead". So the iPhone that was a technical companion in communication for Syed Farook who killed 14 innocent people for the crime of not being Muslim, will remain locked against the FBI enquiry.

In the balance between a federal magistrate judge ordering Apple to concede its assistance to the FBI to enable it entrance into the password-protected phone, an industry giant thumbs its metaphorical nose at government, its intelligence agency, and its judiciary. Apple as defiant of orders to cooperate is simply Apple doing 'the right thing' for its product-constituents who expect no less of it, for having selected Apple's products they have chosen the fail-safe technology of encryption, a lock that puzzles authorities and investigators and that's just the way it is.

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