Roughly Organized Thoughts on The San Bernadino Shooter’s iPhone

  • Apple is framing this debate not as “privacy vs. government surveillance”, but “security vs. government surveillance”. Protecting the privacy of a dead terrorist who killed 14 people is… tricky. Claiming to protect the security of every iPhone customer is a much stronger argument.
  • Neither Facebook nor Google publicly commented. Might be reading too much into this, though. Update: Google did, non-commitally.
  • When reading Apple’s letter, replace all mentions of “FBI” with “non-US intelligence agency”. I bet that Apple is concerned that backdooring an iPhone for the US government opens them up to similar requests from other, less polite countries. Maintaining plausible deniablity is an important and unspoken goal.
  • Ultimately, this individual case doesn’t matter. The FBI is testing public opinion. As Ben Thompson said, perhaps Apple sees this as a slippery-slope, and they don’t want to end up like the telecoms.
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