My two cents on the iPhone debate
The FBI wants Apple to provide a backdoor on iPhones for surveillance. Apple says it’s not going to happen.
The FBI wanted to unlock the phones of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Syed Farook, who killed 14 people in a health clinic in California City, owned a iPhone 5C. The law enforcement tried to unlock the device multiple times, which resulted it locking down and stopped backups going back at Apple. After the iOS update 8.0, to unlock a phone, a simple “brute-force” attack would not be enough, but also requires a hardware key, specific to the device. And it’s only stored on the device.
In my opinion, Apple should unlock Syed’s phone, but it cannot provide a backdoor for FBI and the government for future use.
Syed’s phone is important for future investigation about terrorism. They could see who he was messaging with and about what. Seeing their browsing history, photos, e-mails they could build a full profile of the person. They could learn how Syed behaved. Maybe with a professional research, they could build a profile which could help understand the terrorists behavior and find new suspects or notice potential dangerous individuals.
This is important for future research and the current investigation, but this can’t be said for other users.
Imagine how this can be also be done to everyone with a smartphone. If the government or law enforcement have access to our phones, they can build an image around us, a professional profile with which they have an entire understanding of what we are like and how we behave.
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We already have a problem. Companies got the hold of these data, to which we already feel the effects on our skin, when browsing the internet. The companies profiling us is a big problem and raises many questions, but so far we can only see it used against us in advertisement. We get ads relating to our interests, personalities, behaviors. Imagine all that data in a unregulated state’s hands.
The problem seems to be much bigger if and when government agencies get hold of this data. Looking at the growing number of pseudo-democracies or “illiberal” governments, the question of privacy seems inevitable.
The other problem placing a backdoor in the system, is that it would not be limited to government agencies. Now in the age of cyber warfare, these questions are crucial. If there is a way for the police or FBI, to access the phone without the person being aware of it, there will be a hackergroup which will find that way. It puts everyone’s data into risk.
Now there is a debate, that says, nobody should be afraid of their data being surveillanced by the government if they haven’t done anything bad. I understood and agreed this for a while, but let’s put it into a different perspective.
There is a weird situation now in Hungary. In Orban’s “illiberal” democracy, everyone is free as long as they comply the laws and does not raise their voices against government actions. Once they do the latter, their name and face appears in the National Television and all government-friendly medium. So is it freedom?
My point is that, it’s true if somebody lives their lives according to the morals, ethics and laws of the country they live in they should not have to be afraid of the government collecting data on them, but what if that changes later?
This should be concerning for everyone. What if somebody owns guns according to the “right to bear arms” but if the law changes and owning a gun becomes no longer possible, how would one feel if they would be contacted by the law enforcement to hand over every gun they have in possession because they saw a selfie of them with a gun, taken last week even when it got uploaded to nowhere.
So everyone should be concerned by this, and think this over just one more time. What happens if our data end up in the wrong hands.