DAVE BAKER’S TAKE:
Big Brother, Terrorism and your Privacy – Who’s rights are more important.
Apple vs. FBI.
So here is the government, or one arm of it, looking to exercise its access to private information in the name of national security. Apple says no, the FBI files a lawsuit to force them in the interest of national security, and the stage is set for a major showdown.
First, let’s assume that you are one of the individuals who was injured by the San Bernardino terrorist – or worse – you are the family member of one who was killed. I pray that none of our readers ever has to experience such a tragedy. You’d want justice and it wouldn’t matter what means were necessary to get it, but you’d want it if for no other reason than to exact revenge on the guilty. I know I would. Innocent people injured or killed by fanatics who have twisted their faith into an unspeakable act. These weren’t back street low life thugs you think about when you watch the news. This is a husband and wife – worse – the mother and father of two little children – who dropped their kids off at child care – and then went to their employer’s site to kill innocent people. No signs of terroristic activity, nothing to make you suspicious of them and yet something triggered them at this point in time. What was their motivation? Were there – better yet – are there – others who they may be associated with and may be planning similar heinous crimes? Guess what – we may be able to unravel this – they used technology throughout their days and weeks leading up to their actions. All we have to do is unlock their technology and perhaps we’ll know what we need to know. Do you have the key? No, but I think I know someone who does …
Here’s the rub, Apple can unlock the device, they’ve done it for me when I forgot the impenetrable multiple letter and number sequence I use to encrypt my devices – and forgot the actual code. My understanding is that they’ve done it for this particular device in question – an Apple 5S smart phone. The FBI has been able to access all of the information that they wanted from the phones in question. But that’s not what the FBI wants. They want APPLE to develop an entire set of codes and give them access to it so that they can unlock anyone’s device for any reason or no reason, provided they follow the proper legal steps to acquire the device, without having to go to Apple to access the device. Apple said no, sorry, the privacy of our customers and their devices must be protected regardless of your interest in accessing that information. We’ll unlock specific devices, but we’re not going to give you access to everyone’s – that seems a little onerous and we know no one within the government would ever use private information for nefarious purposes – RIGHT??? Katherine Kane, the embattled state Attorney General, is currently in a career fight with the justice department because she used access to their government owned computers to track not only porn sites the officials were accessing during company work time, but their e-mails as well, many which were completely inappropriate for the workplace. That said, have you updated your computer, e-mail and social media policy yet in your handbook?
Where does the government, in this case the FBI, an arm of the Federal Government, have limitations? George Orwell predicted this in his book ‘1984’ where the government could watch your every move via video, reverse video, and information transfer. Although we don’t appreciate it and take way too much for granted, your every keystroke on your computer is already monitored via google and the other huge data aggregators. Have you ever wondered why ads keep popping up on Facebook about new cars, or recipes, or some other search you just completed seemingly coincidently after you did some search on your computer? These information aggregators sell your search activity to marketers that you are a prime target for their specific marketing information. And magically those ads appear on all of your linked social media. What about the ads that tell you about something that is happening in your home town? All of those actions are linked to an IP address physically located on the modem that you are using to access the internet. So, you may be moving from device to device in your home but in reality they’re all going in and out of the same central source and that central source has an ID associated with it including a location ID. Did you know there are companies that have the technology today to cross reference all of your devices and tell you exactly where you are sitting? Law enforcement uses it today to track people who are ‘missing’ with a device in hand. A few years ago one of my children lost their smart phone in Washington D.C. Using the tracking device on the phone we were able to find it sitting in a cab he had taken the night before and exactly where it was parked. In fact we watched it move when it picked up a fare. And if my son can tell me approximately what row I’m sitting in at Heinz Hall on Friday night, how hard is it for the government officer or some hack to do the same?
What is the big deal? This is a big one. Like HIPPA that protects your medical information using limited access governance, there will be legislation that will be debated shortly on who has the right to access your information, and what are they going to use it for. You have a right to your information privacy, and, although most people don’t protect it, now is the time to insure that it is. Technology is great and Apple and all of the other technology geniuses continue to develop better and more powerful solutions today that we didn’t realize we couldn’t live without yesterday. In my opinion, your rights to privacy are immediately forfeited once you commit an act of terrorism. But giving general access for any other reason to my devices I believe crosses into a new arena of personal privacy and security.