The Apple open letter on Privacy is the most important thing you won’t read

How do you know I’ve accessed 2,432 cat memes?

Today Apple has posted something I believe to be unpreceded, it is an open letter and appeal to its users (and in reality everyone else) stating that the government is trying to force Apple to create a backdoor in their software that would give Apple access to data on any iPhone when forced/requested by law.

Before going into this, here is the basic layout and a 4 point TL;DR. Also this is a quick blog post, excuse the misspellings etc, it is a stream of thought.

  1. “double super secret backdoor access” never stays double super or secret for long

2. Other governments will just passively watch and not do anything similar… #AmIright?

3. Its really, really, really bad for competition — American technology companies will suffer because of mandated backdoors globally

4. There is something called open source software, which lets you evade all surveillance for those that really want to do that…. like bad guys. No need for a fancy-shamnsy iPhone.

5. I’m all for making sure the authorities have the tools they need to succeed. The issue is, this tool doesn’t even work. Its that simple.

Not TL;DR

1. “double super secret backdoor access” never stays double super or secret for long

Ever heard this before?

Yup, Ben Franklin’s words

Morbid? You got it. True? Most likely.

A backdoor, even a super secret backdoor will be found and when it is, it will be exploited by those very same bad guys to the detriment of everyone.

How do people find backdoors? Luck, research, but mostly through hardcore reverse engineering. Basically, people examine a piece of software and try to find out how it works and over time figure out how to secretly exploit the BACKDOORS to their advantage.

Ever heard of a software bug? Its kinda like a backdoor and here’s how. Sometimes you are told to update your phone’s software because there is a patch or upgrade. People make errors and programmers are people. Accidental errors are called bugs, and bugs are fixed with software updates or patches.

So bad guys and good guy researchers find these software bugs, the good guys report them to the software companies, the bad guys could use them secretly — sometimes for days, months or even YEARS to do whatever nefarious things they want to do.

A backdoor, while purposefully built is something like an error in the code because its not “natural”. But a backdoor just like a software bug, will be found and in time exploited.

Its not a question of if it will happen, its a question of WHEN. Ask anyone who knows security — it will happen. Period.

2. Other governments will just passively watch and not do anything similar… #AmIright?

This one is just too obvious — its like everyone else won’t want that exact same access, sometimes for less than ideal reasons.

The U.S. government will set acceptable precedent and the “do as I say not as I do” argument will hold no weight.

3. Its really, really, really bad for competition — American technology companies will suffer because of mandated backdoors globally

Why buy something from an American supplier when you can get it from somewhere else, without the snooping? This is a huge crutch and would be a definite free marker differentiator. Some countries already use this philosphy and leverage open-source software based operating systems like Linux where they can at least “see the code”.

4. There is something called open source software, which lets you evade all surveillance for those that really want to do that…. like bad guys. No need for a fancy-shamnsy iPhone.

This is by no means a knock on open-source software — it enables a lot of good and is the backbone of much of what you use every day.

However, in reality someone who is highly incentivized to keep things secrete can do just that at any time and Apple, Google or anyone else cannot do anything about it. Unless of course, you want to outlow the production of microchips, computer hardware, phones or electronics in general.

5. I’m all for making sure the authorities have the tools they need to succeed. The issue is, this tool doesn't even work. Its that simple.

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