Apple vs the FBI is nothing but PR
The argument over encryption is not a new one, it appeared in the 90's and then again in the early 2000's – and now again thanks to a certain Edward Snowden we are again having the conversation. Only this time it’s the reverse and a whole lot louder!
The military argued long and hard that the tech industry needed to work on encryption harder and secure its communications. Unfortunately now the security agencies argue that the methods used are too good. You can always use the tried rebuttal that the state of the world is a whole lot different, however the word terrorism is not a new one. Unfortunately it is one that is now used as a tool to spark emotional responses and light a fire to all sorts of opinions.
There is no denying the events of San Bernardino where terrible – people died and lots of individual lives where changed dramatically. However this fight between Apple and FBI has almost nothing to do with this tragedy – and is being used as a PR tool to gain traction for an argument that is much greater.
There are several foctors and reasons for this, and to be honest I completely understand both sides of the argument. For once this is a difficult decision and not someothing so cut and dry that many would have you believe. There are many facts that have been forgotten and it’s important to realise the vast majority of ones that remain is spun to show a certain narrative.
The Phone in question
It is an iPhone 5c – given to Syed Rizwan Farook by his employer, none other than the San Bernardino County Government. Forook went to great lengths to burn two other electronic devices so they were unrecoverable yet left is work phone intact. Given access to other devices would a terrorist communicate on a work device that is not his own?
The aforementioned phone was completing iCloud backups until around 6 weeks before the attack. The FBI already has access to all of this data due to US regulation regarding third party access. In essence you give up any assumption to data privacy if you let another party hold said data. It is understood that none of the backups contain any information of note.
The iPhone also has the ‘find my iPhone’ feature activated, so the iPhone could be tracked at all times. Does that sound like something a terrorist would do? This also mediates the argument that iCloud backups have been switched off, as if that were true you can be dam sure that find my iPhone would have been turned off too.
Call records and communication records have already been attained from the network, so any numbers of contacts are already known. Combine this with the fact there is only a simple 4 digit passcode enabled – something that could be brute forced in less than 17 hours given Apples agreement. Still think there is information of use on here?
The FBI have latched onto the phone in question for PR purposes and nothing more. Using the word terrorist sparks the right emotional responses to get a large amount of agreement out of the public at large, something very rarely possible given people’s suspicion over security agencies in the post Snowdon era.
Apple are a public company, their large user base and their huge luxury appeal is the iPhones biggest selling point. It is a risky business for Apple to alienate even a small portion of the population against the iPhone. If you don’t think that’s possible, you only have to look at the like of Donald Trump to know the type of people that will latch onto issues given half the information.
Given the fact that the iPhone supports the vast majority of its business, attacking it is the best possible way to convince Apple to comply with the FBI request. Couple this with the fact the FBI have a target phone that it is technically possible for Apple to do what they are requesting – is a perfect stormCall it the perfect storm, and unfortunately Apple stand little chance of winning this fight.