by Marion Marks
The “Unabomber” anarchistic life, allegedly devoid of industrialized modern technology, has practically vanished from human existence in western culture, even in the majority of the rest of the world. And, utilizing any modern appliance or interfacing one’s identity with a daily routine, guarantees a digital trail being created and documented for current and future analysis,
Life today is a self-generating record of all that we are and all that we do, regardless of the efforts to maintain a semblance of privacy. Settings on our devices not withstanding, our interface with the digital universe is documented by the culture we have allowed and fostered to make fulfilling our daily needs easier and less expensive. And no future modifications seem to exist on the horizon that will allow our identity to not become an easily intertwined part of the record we create, fulfilling our daily needs. Actions to satisfy our expectations become votes with our money, and our daily decisions and movements become tallies in our life record.
The Apple versus F.B.I. legal and philosophical maneuvering regarding a dead terrorist’s cellphone is only the thin edge of the wedge the government believes will lure public sentiment into delivering greater individual rights to protect public safety needs. At least that’s the crack being investigated by the government in the current attempt to break the will of the public, along with the outcry in order to open a path to the slippery slope for future searches into cellphone and other electronic device data.
The tragic and gory details of the San Bernardino terrorist inspired massacre is only the latest case the government is using to leverage federal courts to force Apple to violate privacy guards Apple pledged to protect owners of their devices. Data entrusted to Apple was believed to be sacred and protected. This was always a key reason consumers flocked to Apple for their great technology. Steve Jobs fostered, supplied and marketed Apple so fantastically that we lined up in droves to follow the Pied Piper of Cupertino almost wherever he led us. I can’t believe Steve Jobs would ever give in to these demands.
Now the F.B.I. essentially wants Apple to create a path that will open the iPhone used by one of the shooters from San Bernardino that may end with the writing of new software to bypass safeguards Apple created to help all consumer phones stay safe. For many reasons Apple and consumer advocates do not want Apple begin to go down this slippery slope.
The heart of rapidly changing technologies is always the data that belongs to those who use the technology. The balance between the right to privacy and digital liberties and the authority of the government to seek out information in the name of national security is where this battle is being fought. Tracing the basic right to privacy will probably require a legal path that goes back to the logic of the Bill of Rights.
No clearer issue exists than the expectation of privacy of personal data that was never intended to be shared outside the parties who communicate it. If I call or text my lawyer, or an attorney hires me to do work and sends me texts, is this not a very closely protected communication? And when new technology makes the transfer of that data easier, or formatted in a different manner, the intent of the privacy of the data never changes.
And how has the right to privacy been altered when a court passes judgment on the form that data takes in the communication process? Although I’m not an attorney, it seems clear to me that the data, and the intent of that data as a private communication, with certain expectations, is what the framers of the Constitution intended to protect.
Yes, there are clear lines in the sand regarding expectations of protection against foreign terrorists and national security. But just how far down that line do we have to travel to get to the guy who is using his iPhone to cheat the IRS? And what about the guy who is using his data cloud to steal from someone’s piggy bank or who takes photos of people on the street doing embarrassing things?
Apple’s stand in this case makes sense to most people when it comes to the concept of personal liberties, however, the weakness of the argument is in the ISIS terrorist whose iPhone may have data that will uncover other plots against our country. We are not talking about just one phone and one case. This is a test case. And, if the F.B.I. wins, they have a very large collection of other iPhones that they will be asking Apple to unlock. The continuing case logic is now not so difficult to appreciate.
The general public can easily see the case with a single phone and scream for justice in the name of national security. But this case and the ramifications of a decision by Apple to unlock a single phone goes so much farther. And if the court compels a manufacturer to give access to a smartphone for a single law-enforcement claim, where does the logic end?
I suggest private industry, even single citizens – those having the talent to create secure communications on the iPhone should encourage the next generation of digital forensic and wire-head geniuses to find a way to unlock these devices that are involved in crimes against society. All of us who claim to love our freedoms protected by our rights have an interest in protecting the society that shelters us.
When it came to the Enigma code in World War II, it was a team of mathematicians and engineers who worked to break the code. And, if the government has the help of inside engineers who give hints as to where the weak links may exist, the more power to them in uncovering terrorist communications. We are at war, although it may be undeclared war, and all resources must be focused on winning against those who seek to destroy America.
If the courts deem that there is a reasonable expectation that the data in this single phone should be revealed, especially after the deaths and destruction caused by the phone’s original owner, then where are the co-called noble hackers who are eager to give away government data that violates personal rights? These same hackers should be assisting in the uncovering of the phone’s data to save innocent citizens from future terrorist acts. Logic demands rational action just as logic demands that Apple cannot unlock the single phone voluntarily.
If anyone out there believes that there is any data that is not at risk of becoming public, they have been drinking too much of the Kool-aide. Every credit card transaction, every search on a web browser, every page of data opened builds a record on a computer for the user, for the home or business owner, for the network interface card, for the router, for the IP address, for the server, for the internet provider and so on. Data, big data, exists for companies to farm, and without regulation we all contribute to the destruction of privacy as it existed before the internet.
Anyone who fools themselves into believing that their actions are not being sliced and diced by any number of companies for marketing purposes is truly delusional. It is the citizen who is aware of more of the ways actions are tracked and carefully determines some issues to exclude or actions that are unnecessary from their lives. The impulsive purchase or page opened on the internet is what “Big Brother” wants to know about and influence.
The next time you decide to shop on the internet you might want to experiment with some wild item you never would consider buying or some site you believe is completely contrary to anything you would ever view, That very act of doing the unexpected will trigger new advertising or messages sent to you, totally out of the blue in your belief, that are based on what “Big Brother’s” knowledge base deems as an appropriate marketing response to your wild actions.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about passwords and search engines when your home computer is used by everyone who comes into your house. It’s just as Pogo warned us, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
The F.B.I. picked the perfect case to push for a new authority to get further in to our privacy and personal lives. We have interfaced far more and taken advantage of technology than Ted Kaczynski, and we certainly haven’t cut ourselves off from society. America opens the door to the world and shares technology and freedoms, but there is always an additional agenda. We can’t act surprised when our technology comes home, full of the evil we uniformly despise, and expects to share our bedrooms,