I came across an article this evening from the Los Angeles Times titled “How you might feel about Apple right now if your boyfriend died in San Bernardino” (link to original article: http://lat.ms/1Rm5pLP ).
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I LOVE this country. I love the freedoms this country affords me, and my fellow citizens. We, brothers and sisters, live in one of the greatest countries to have ever existed. And we are, quite literally, on the cusp — the very brink, where your heart starts racing as you stand looking over the edge of the cliff to the incredible fall and an inevitable death should a slight breeze pick up-of eradicating the very fabric of the freedoms that have made our country the envy to much of the developed world. I have no sympathy for terrorists, they have no place in this country of ours, and we must do everything prudent, reasonable, and right to track them down and destroy them.
Having said that, this article appalls me. Mr. Reyes, the protagonist in our story, initially sides with Apple. Then, he suddenly realizes that people (meaning you and me) are more concerned about the security and integrity of “bookmarked cat videos” versus “finding out what it is that could keep myself or a family member safe.”
What Mr. Reyes fails to realize in his emotionally irrational claims about Apple supporters’ motives is that he, himself, is disgracing the victims of the San Bernardino tragedy by playing a victim himself. 14 people died, Mr. Reyes, and you’re the victim? Ironic. Hypocritical.
Second, and most important, Mr. Reyes is one person. This debate about terrorism vs. privacy and its outcome will inevitably decide the fate of privacy rights of citizens across the globe. There are 7 billion of us, folks; and plenty who would love to wreak the kind of havoc reserved only for D-Day events should they acquire the code to break encryption on Apple, or any other, smart devices.
I don’t want to dive into facts; nevertheless, I do want to point out three pertinent pieces of information about this case:
- The shooters destroyed their two personal phones. This was intentional. They didn’t destroy Farook’s iPhone 5C that was issued to him by the local government. This was intentional. What in the world is there to find on this phone that two hardened ISIS terrorists who had the smarts to destroy their personal devices actually reveal? (Hint: if you guessed precisely zilch, you’d be correct).
- The San Bernardino Health Department, under direction of the FBI, changed the iCloud ID password. Feds say this was “to secure access to information stored in iCloud.” This was either technological ineptness, or purpose-driven. Which brings me to my final fact:
- After the DOJ failed to convince Congress to enact legislation to limit or circumvent encryption technologies, the Obama Administration told the public they’d drop the issue. However, last November, DOJ members met behind closed doors and were given the directive to find any means necessary to force the hand of technology companies to break the encryption that protects our privacy.
I’m alarmed that there are people out there more concerned about isolated terrorist incidents than the fundamental right to privacy we enjoy, this same right that’s currently under fire by a government body of people WE elected, and that, should it come to pass we sacrifice our privacy in the name of politics masquerading as “justice,” a decision that will affect generations to come. A decision that will all but cease development of new technology (who wants to use a device they don’t trust is safe from prying eyes?). History is full of examples of the regret of many voluntarily foregone liberties. Nothing in this world is perfect, and sacrificing our privacy in the name of preventing terrorist acts will have exactly the opposite effect.
We’re smarter than this. We’re better than this. And we deserve better from our government and elected officials. Just because you do no harm is not a valid reason for willingly giving up your privacy; that’s not what millions of our fallen brothers and sisters died to protect! Weakening encryption is not the solution: it’s ultimately the complete opposite of public safety and the tides of World War II itself changed because of broken encryption. History is there so we learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.
Let’s wake up, America. For once, let’s do the right damn thing. The safety and privacy of generations of American futures are depending on us.