Apple’s Security Debate is Everyone’s Problem (Including Yours)

from Note to Self

The debate over whether the government can access your phone is here. Hello!

You’ve probably been following along, but in case you need the tl;dr: The debate revved up last month when the FBI asked Apple to hack into a locked iPhone associated with one of the gunmen from the San Bernardino massacre last December. Since then, the conversation has evolved into a national debate over what the government should (and shouldn’t) be allowed to access. The conversation has officially moved outside the realm of tech and the government. With 90 percent of American adults owning a cell phone, the issue is hitting a lot closer to home than even the Edward Snowden revelations.

On this week’s episode, you’ll hear from Russell Banks, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and author of “The Sweet Hereafter,” “Affliction,” and “Cloudsplitter.” Banks was one of several prolific writers, including Gay Talese and Sandra Cisneros, who signed a letter last month calling for the FBI to stand down in their attempt to hack Apple.

More here.

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9 Responses to Apple’s Security Debate is Everyone’s Problem (Including Yours)

  1. William Farlie April 15, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    It’s really interesting to me to see this whole debacle still going on weeks later after the FBI already figured out how to access the shooter’s information on the phone all by themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the argument here for setting a legal precedent one way or the other and by Apple still fighting the FBI in court they’re fighting for the future “security” of our data. But there’s a reason I put the word security in quotations; in fact there’s a really sad and lasting thought to be taken away from all of this. The fact that the FBI was able to successfully access the phone without Apple’s go ahead is scary, and it points to the fact that one way or another if the FBI (or the government for that matter) really wants something they will get it no matter what. Now, granted this was an older version of Apple’s iOS and therefore the encryption was weaker than what is now the standard but I believe the point still stands.

    I believe the idea of complete and total privacy is sadly dead. Further, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this had been the case longer than the government would like us to know. The idea that the government hasn’t already cracked an iPhone and accessed it’s data in the past seems very unlikely to me. In fact I would be willing to bet that more than likely this shooting catastrophe just acted as a viable platform for the government to finally broach this topic publicly, cynical though that viewpoint may be. Apple tells us constantly that our devices are beyond secure and that there is no way anyone could get through their encryption without Apple specifically making a way to do so. But ask yourself, doesn’t Apple have a motivation to make these claims? Even if their device was insecure why would they tell the public? I would not be surprised in any way to learn that our data is less secure then we are told and even then, less secure then we believe.

    At the end of the day the thing we all really need to remember is that the US government these days is a standalone entity, much in the way Apple as a company is a standalone entity. People like to see Apple lately as “fighting for the people” and “our rights” but keep in mind they are only doing so because it is in their best interest to do so. If Apple were to lose its claim to data security it would surely also lose a part of its fan base. Likewise while the US government may tell you that it cannot get into your devices it has a vested interested in doing so to ensure that we as a people stay complacent and believe that our rights are being upheld. The old adage goes, “Believe nothing what you hear and only half of what you see,” and at this point in time that is perhaps some of the best advice out there. Remember that in many ways this Apple v. Government is not a Business v. Government case, it is a Business v. Business case. Especially with how prevalent political corruption is at this day and age it would be foolish to assume that the government is anything less than a business looking to always expand its abilities and profit margins.

  2. wenqi zhang April 15, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    A humble message, open the secrets of an explosive: all products into the national security agency to apple spy software, can control all the apple products! This may be so far, China’s information security exposed the most serious threat. The spread of the large number of devices, for project time and depth of information content, is beyond history.
    Reveal different this time around with the past apple product safety issues of rumors and speculation, but the fact that the evidence available. The German magazine der spiegel revealed from snowden national security document. On the 30th chaotic communication meeting, computer security independent researchers Jacob appell baum explain the document content. Document detailing the name as “Dropout Jeep” principle, method and working process of the project. Shows the nsa can convert the iphone to hacking tools, and radar equipment for electronic information from the computer, even if the computer is not online. Appell baum said he learned of the national security agency’s ability to “more than you can think the most terrible nightmare horror”.
    For ordinary users, they can be hard to feel the real threat to his safety problem, apple products is difficult to estimate the severity of harm. But, for any concern the national information security, this problem is very important. Fall is apple products, fall is the user privacy and national security. Apple, of course, hope to roll with the punches, hush. But so far, apple does not under any pressure and loss. Auto safety, if international has pass the recall system, however, like the iPhone safe hidden trouble, there is no established the basic system of accountability.
    Snowdon’s greatest value to Chinese cyberspace security events, is the strategy of awakening. For how to effectively resolve the exit in the apple, we related departments will be decisive. How to evaluate the seriousness of the hidden danger and harm? For the apple product safety review and evaluation of the problem, how to remedy? Not just apple need to concrete, concrete measures for the consumers, the Chinese authorities also deal with the incident, take effective measures.
    As a result of the current media Snowden hand file less than one over ten, involves the military, political, and other more sensitive files still in the hands of Snowdon. And the media file, the disclosure is only less than one percent. Therefore, we should fully anticipate, as more disclosure, China’s bigger, more serious security hidden danger may continue. Need to focus on the stability of top-level design, on the other hand, more needs to be immediately set out to remedy the basic design, in short, apple’s exit events once again give us warning, cyber security strategy so it is urgent to promote in China

  3. Cedric Kabore April 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    As the article said the debate about whether or not the government should have access to our information through Apple affects all of us. In fact the FBI argue that for our security they should be able to listen and have access to any data on iPhones. On the other hand consumers would like to keep their privacy and freedom. As much as I think that there is other ways for the Government and the FBI to fight against terrorism I think this privacy thing is highly overrated nowadays regard what is happening on social media. Some people expose all their lives on the internet through their iPhones.
    I really doubt that the FBI really waited until now to start spying our phone calls or text messages. The fact is that the FBI managed to unlock an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters without the help of Apple. And the agency has shown no interest in telling Apple how it skirted the phone’s security features, leaving the tech giant guessing about a vulnerability that could compromise millions of devices. I think they surely can get access to Apple’s databases without their help but it is important that we now know that they are doing it. The situation illuminates a process that usually takes place in secret. In fact the Governments regularly develop or purchase hacking techniques for law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts, and put them to use without telling affected companies. In the war against terrorism it seems like the government is ready to anything to get information in order to stop any attacks. It is fair to say that they are actually doing their job in seeking to protect the population. Now that the FBI has dropped its case against Apple, there’s a new ethical dilemma. Should tech companies like apple be made aware of flaws in their products, or should law enforcement be able to deploy those bugs as crime-fighting tools? I do not think the government will ever stop spying tech company’s data in the war against terrorism.
    I think it is possible to reach an agreement in this case in order to satisfy the different parties. The issue of this case will definitely affect all of us. It is preferable to avoid a virtual war between tech companies and the FBI.

  4. David Webster April 29, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    Paranoia about the theft of information has been growing, and I don’t blame those who feel this way. The whole cliche of wearing tin-foil hats and putting duct tape over your computers iSight camera used to be deemed, for lack of better words, crazy. The problem is, as times have progressed, this possibility is more and more realistic. Not only are 3rd party hackers able to steal your information (hack into your screen, hack into your webcam), but companies themselves are selling and aggregating our information. It’s all in the fine print–the fine print we never bother to read.
    Here’s the bottom line: I don’t want the government to be able to access my phone! Yes, it is true that I am not a gunman from San Bernardino, but the fact that there may be backdoor access to all of my information–mind you, my phone contains almost every piece of information that identifies me as a person–is truly horrifying.
    Government agencies such as the NSA and others are probably watering at the mouth thinking about the opportunity at hand. They can identify and know everything about a person’s life remotely. With just a click of a button, they could access everything. Sure, they say if there’s nothing to hide there may be a problem. I think saying that is a copout, and pulling and selling my information is morally wrong. Some may also say it’s worth it in order to catch criminals, but I would argue that there is a strong system of balance. The main question to ask is: Do the ends justify the means? I would give that question an immediate no. If you have any questions as to why I say that, read 1984.
    This article brings up an interesting topic: writers. Writers are among one of the professions that might need to research a taboo topic in order to create their work. For instance, say somebody is writing about a heroin addict in New York City. They might google, “Where can I buy heroin in New York City?” Similarly, somebody writing a murder novel may have even more concern. A writer may need to google a question such as, “How to dispose of a body without leaving a trace?”. In this world where the government has access to basically everything you do, they’d be knocking on your door in no time. Searches like this would put you on a “watch” list and they would have eyes on everything you typed and did from then on. Just by typing those words in this document, they may even be watching me by now!
    Not only is this unfair, and unconstitutional, it is creepy. I don’t want to live in a world where peering eyes can access everything I do.

  5. Sahnera Spruill September 9, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    I honestly don’t see a problem with the government having access to apple software. Assured safety has been a huge issue lately with the rise in crimes and terrorism over the years. The government has and I hope will continue to prevent numerous terrorist attacks by tuning into key words picked up by programs. For example in 2009, through the PRISM internet spying program, Najibullah Zazi’s plot to bomb NY city subways was successfully prevented. I don’t see why someone would be so upset about the government seeing their imessages if they have nothing to hide. They aren’t going to tune into a conversation if there is no reason to suspect a thing and if they were, they aren’t going to care about which Starbucks you and your friends are meeting at later. They aren’t going to care about the birthday wish you text to your cousin. And they definitely do not care about your love affairs. I don’t see why anyone should fret about their almost irrelevant text messages being read if it can lead the government one step closer to saving lives. I notice the main argument from the naysayers consist, “Ohh, they can’t invade our privacy, it makes me feel uncomfortable”. But honestly, the thought of a terrorist attack and innocent people dying makes me feel just a little more uncomfortable. I actually feel that our government is fulfilling their purpose if they have the power and technology to pick up on these things. And in most cases, other humans will not read anything about your life unless the machines pick up on any key words through programs, as stated before. If the machines do not pick up anything, no one is likely to read you birthday wishes. I’ve heard a lot of people bring up Big Brother and the book “1984” while debating about this. Well, I’ve read the book in high school, and in no way do I think their society or Big Brother relates to the act of spying to prevent terrorism. I do believe that the book “1984” is an eye opener to our current government- citizen relationship, but it is exaggerated for story purposes. In 1984, the moves of the people were watched and controlled through surveillance. If our government does this then yes, that is a complete invasion of privacy. Our homes are our safe havens where we laugh, cry, love and raise our families. That would be an invasion of our humanity. Our phones shouldn’t be so important to us to the point that someone seeing our texts is so detrimental to our happiness. Maybe the government spying in our iphones would be a great thing for this generation. Maybe people will stop using their phones for all their private matters, and go out and establish real human connection. The title “Apple’s Security Debate Is Everyone’s Problem Including Yours)”, is so innacurate, because in no way do I care, and in no way is it my problem.

    P.S: If you didn’t hear.. I believe on Wednesday Edward Snowden is filming live from Russia. It’s only streaming live in New York.

  6. Joselito Abarca September 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    The reason our founders created a Constitution was to protect us from the government who have an abundance of resources and immense power. A revolution was fought for this. As technology advances, we have become more vulnerable to government entities. A major question that originates from this dispute is “At what point is it worth risking our freedom for the protection of the individual? The feud between corporations and a government is a human issue that pertains to anyone who values privacy and inalienable rights.This became a major issue after when it was brought to light that The NSA (National Security Agency) had implemented different programs to spy on American citizens. A dilemma arose when it was revealed that the NSA was collecting millions of telephone records from Verizon. Shortly, Edward Snowden, disclosed that NSA was collecting information from the largest tech companies in a surveillance program known as “PRISM”. They began to feel that they were being violated and stripped of their Constitutional Rights. I personally believe that the Federal Government had surveillance on its citizens ever since technology allowed them to. Another issue that arise is that people are petrified that they cannot talk about or look up certain information because they can get into legal issues because of their actions. In an interview Russel Banks, a writer, argues that while he as he was doing research for his convicted sex offenders novel, he felt he was being watched. In the process of writing the novel, he had to look at sensitive material. The most recent issue dealing with privacy vs security is the Apple vs the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over Encryption. The FBI was trying to unlock the password of the San Bernardino shooter. Trying multiple password on an iPhone and they are incorrect, the iPhone goes into self-destruction mode and the data erases from the cellular device. In order to prevent this, the FBI asked Apple to create a software that would allow them to access the iPhone. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple argues that “We built the iPhone for you, our customers and we know that it is a deeply personal device. For many of us the iPhone is an extension of ourselves” Apple wanted to protect the privacy and freedom of its customers and refused to collaborate with the FBI. Eventually the court ordered for it to happen, but the Apple kept its same stance. Many argue that giving up privacy for secret is not worth it. After Brussel Attacks, citizens are angry that they are given up privacy, but their governments have not been successful in combating terrorism. These initiatives are a direct violation to the Fourth Amendment, which states “Right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, hall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause” In order to search a person there has to a probable cause to do so. The Federal government is violating this statement by invading privacy. I began to do research on the topic, and found an interesting video where an adjacent professor at Seton Hall Law, Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fourth Amendment was created to “protect the quintessential American right of the right to be left alone”. By the FBI intervening with the software, it goes against constitutional, privacy and human rights. All the spying has been unsuccessful, because the United States continue to have attacks on the homeland. A Recent example would be the Boston Marathon Bombing where hundreds were injured after the fatality. Additionally, according to a recent report from a digital analytics firm comScore reveals that of the 184 million Americans owning a smartphone, more than 4 in 10 use and iPhone. For this reason, this issue pertains to all of us. This is an issue who should concern anyone with a cell phone, laptop and etc. To a certain extent I agree with Edward Snowden that the American people should be allowed to decide whether or not they approve of these government actions. Moreover, another issue that should be addressed is that during a crisis, people’s mentality changes momentarily. According to a study conducted by Pew Research, in “2001 about 55 percent of Americans believed it was necessary to give up some civil liberties to curb terrorism. By 2011 that number fell to 40 percent. And in a June 2014 survey from Pew, just 23 percent of those polled said Americans need to be willing to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism”. After 9/11, many laws have been implemented as an immediate response to combat fear. This demonstrates how during a time of crisis, people are willing to accept anything that will bring protection, but after they realize that to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism, their perception is altered. Apple should preserve our constitutional values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    ACUConservativeUSA. “CPAC 2015 – Privacy vs Security Debate.”YouTube. YouTube, 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.

    “Apple’s Security Debate Is Everyone’s Problem (Including Yours).”WNYC. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.

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  7. Sahnera Spruill September 16, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

    So I know I’ve already commented on this post but I’m back because I have a whole new perspective. On Wednesday night I went to go see the Edward Snowden movie which was followed by his interview. The movie portrayed the journey Edward Snowden and his team went through in order to expose the non idealistic acts of the government to the ignorant and oblivious public. I originally thought that the government having access to our messages and things of that sort was an okay thing and I saw no problem with it. The movie it’s self didn’t change my mind, it was some of the wise words Edward Snowden said in the live interview. The government having access to our information and “privacy” doesn’t have as much to do with an act to secure and protect the citizens as it has to do with power and control. If the police need a warrant to search our homes why wouldn’t the government need a warrant to search our homes through our computers and cell phones? Also, was there really a point in the government asking apple to hack apple products to spy? As if they haven’t already been doing it. I at first agreed with the average argument to the debate of whether or not the government should be able to spy. That argument being “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about”, but Edward snowden raised a great point. Not caring for the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is almost like not caring about the freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. I never thought of it in that way. The purpose of our rights are to protect us from the power hungry government that may try to wrong us. They aren’t just for our entertainment. I do think that peeping in on the life of a person who is a serious suspect to possible threats may be necessary, sometimes extreme measures need to be taken, but only with probable cause. But when it comes to everyday citizens that don’t offer an obvious reason to searched, the government should exercise our right to privacy. Benjamin franklin once said “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one”. I completely agree with this. As a people, we’ve let our fears and paranoia make our decisions and run our lives. I now believe that maintaining our rights as citizens is more important than putting handcuffs on every potential terrorist. We are constantly manipulated through our fears into giving the government power that they should not have. If we continue on this path, our freedom of speech, freedom of religion etc will be snatched away from us for “the greater good”, just like our privacy.

  8. Valerie Natter November 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Yet another cyber security article I am commenting on. It is very scary to hear all of these articles about hackers and also even our own government being able to access our devices. I think the government should be able to access some peoples devices if they are under investigation. If there is information on them that can be used to help save people I think it should be okay for the government to access this. I understand that Apple wants their users to feel safe and does not want the government to have access to this but at the same time there needs to be exceptions.

  9. Frankie Lisa January 20, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    The Apple security debate made waves in the news after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. This issue affects roughly ninety million Americans who own an iPhone, and the millions more who use other smart phone brands. Since the FBI was able to gain access to an iPhone, which has very secure data encryption, without the help of Apple, they likely have the ability to pass any data encrypted device. Many people believe that this is an encroachment on our privacy and a violation of our rights. On the other hand, many Americans who are concerned about our national security are shocked and concerned that the FBI faced difficulties accessing an iPhone which belonged to a terrorist.
    I think that Apple faced pressure to deny the FBI’s request to unlock the phone to protect their integrity. Apple would have angered its unconditionally loyal customers if they had unlocked the iPhone. If they handed over the key to the iPhone, their customers would have said “Apple sold out.” But since Apple stood firm against the FBI, they received praise for “fighting for their customer’s rights and privacy.” Apple also faced concerns that if software that could unlock any iPhone was created, this technology may fall into the wrong hands and into the hands of hackers and cyberterrorist. The article states that many authors voiced their concern about their own privacy, and many signed a letter wanting the FBI to back away from trying to unlock the iPhone. This is because these authors had concerns about being monitored by the government. I think these authors are very arrogant because they think the secrecy of their work and their privacy is more important that America’s national security.
    I was very disappointed in Apple for not helping the FBI unlock the iPhone. I think it was selfish for a company that makes billions of dollars in revenue every year, to show no concern for America’s national security, especially considering The United States is Apple’s biggest market. There was the possibility of vital information such as future plots, and information about the accomplices. Many people do not want the FBI to have access to anything on their iPhone that they consider private. The lives of these people are not that interesting, I have owned an iPhone for almost three years, and there is not one call, text, email, or photo that would be of any interest to the government.
    The FBI and Apple were scheduled to go to court but the case was dropped because the FBI was able to unlock the iPhone with help from a third party. I was happy the FBI was able to access the iPhone but the bigger issue is still left unresolved. Since no ruling was made in courthouse, no precedent has been set to address these types of cases in the future. Do we need this third party to unlock an iPhone every time the FBI wants them to do so? The FBI was able to work their way around this case, but what will they do if the next iPhone has a stronger encryption that this third party is unable to crack open? Federal and State governments need to make a ruling on this issue so this dilemma will no longer occ

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