Guardian Tech Reporter: Apple Should Help FBI Break Into iPhone Because I Don't Consider Privacy All That Important
from the why-should-your-lives-be-less-of-a-voluntarily-open-book-than-mine? dept
Of all the arguments for the idea that the government should be able to force Apple to whip up a backdoor for law enforcement, the worst hasn’t come from the government. Instead, it’s been delivered by The Guardian’s San Francisco-based technology reporter, Nellie Bowles.
Bowles takes the oft-opined “nothing to hide” argument and turns it into an argument against anyone having any expectation of privacy in today’s connected world — and it’s all based on a single subjective experience: hers.
But is it really so absurd to ask Apple to break into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c? In this exceptional case of large-scale domestic terrorism, this is a phone built before Apple sealed off its “back door”, so how much of a precedent can it set? And beyond the specifics of today, if our lives are lived through our phones now, how can law enforcement do its job if it can’t get into them?
I’ve already given up on all pretense of privacy by putting an always listening Amazon Echo in my bedroom (good morning, Jeff Bezos), which I’m sure the NSA could tap into whenever it wanted.
Most people don’t want Bowles’ Echo-owning assumption of non-privacy applied to their lives/devices, but she’s basically arguing that if she’s cool with the government having access to all of this, everyone else should be too because, really, who even thinks privacy’s a thing anymore?
Bowles can voluntarily open her life for additional examination if she’d like, much in the way citizens can consent to warrantless searches. But just because Bowles has willingly forked over her privacy in exchange for a shiny IoT thing, it’s no basis for any rhetorical argument that encompasses anything more than Bowles and her privacy.
And there will be plenty of Techdirt points for the commenter who wrings something resembling logic or clarity out of this sentence:
So in the same way I’d argue we legalize drugs, why not have a careful, legal pathway to break into a phone?
I’ve tried approaching this from a few different angles but the best I can come up with is this:
“I’m cool. You can trust me. I’m not always about giving The Man what he wants.”
Bowles notes that people “live lives” through their phones while arguing for the general “rightness” of forcing companies to help law enforcement break into people’s “lives.” The problem — among several — is this isn’t a one-off effort to help the FBI investigate a terrorist attack. This bespoke software solution will go into routine use if the FBI’s efforts are successful — either after the FBI figures out how to do this on its own by sifting through Apple’s code or after the FBI uses this as precedent for future All Writs orders (“This one judge said it was ok…”).
It’s much larger than this case. And this is exactly the hill the FBI’s willing to die on. A mass shooting with apparent terroristic motivation is the Patient Zero it needs to make inroads in its War on Encryption. It will be happy to start with courts forcing cell phone providers to unlock devices for it. Bowles, however, thinks this is a singular case without broader implications — unsurprising, given her arguments for law enforcement access seem to begin and end with the Amazon Echo in her bedroom.