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The United States Attorney General has taken to late night television, in an attempt to defend the Federal Bureau of Investigation's actions against Apple in the ongoing iPhone encryption debate. Loretta Lynch made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, clarifying what the FBI is requesting of Apple and explaining the government's position on the case to the host and the general public, among other topics during the interview.
After noting the courtroom disagreement and claiming to have had a "number of great conversations with Tim Cook on the issues of privacy," Lynch insists "I understand why this is important to everybody, because privacy is an important issue for everyone. It's important to me as the attorney general, it's important to me as a citizen."
When pushed by Colbert about comments by Apple executives about a possible backdoor becoming a precedent, one that could lead to more invasive requests and greater access to devices by law enforcement in future, Lynch denies this by claiming "We're not asking for a backdoor," and not to create anything that would constitute surveillance. Lynch insists the request is one for "the customer," namely that it's a government-owned work phone, not a private citizen.
"What we're asking them to do is to help us disable the password erase function, that basically wipes the phone if you guess the password wrong after ten times. We will try to enter the phone and extract the evidence under the court order we have gotten that is very narrow and very focused."
The appearance on a late night talkshow comes after a similar pro-Apple appearance by Steve Wozniak on Conan earlier this week, and the same day that the Department of Justice issued a court filing declaring Apple "deliberately raised technological barriers" to make collecting evidence from a device extremely difficult.
It doesn't matter if it's a government owned phone, the work done by Apple to break into it would be used by more than once (already admitted by Comey) and would be used against non-government-owned phones by police, foreign countries and hackers. Once this hack has been used, it will leak out (probably by the FBI or DOJ) and nobody will be safe. Once the precedent has been set, and it will set a precedent (also admitted by Comey), all encrypted devices will be subject to the same demands; phones, computers, everything else.
Well, not everything. The government will make sure their own encrypted devices aren't subject to any of this. Protect the government first, leave the citizens to fend for themselves.
We're not as stupid as the government thinks we are.
I guess that the next request that the Attorney General will make will be to insist that neuroscientists come up with a way that the government can get into our minds and pry out our secrets. Quickly following that will be a law prohibiting whispering and forcing hearing aid manufacturers to put a record and transmit function in all new hearing aids. Of course the next step after that is to force dentists to put recording and transmitting devices into our mouths that the government can listen into our private speech.
Who lied? The term "backdoor" has a very specific meaning in cryptography. The government is not asking for that, BUT what they are requesting would substantially weaken both the encryption mechanisms and our civil liberties. There's a very real difference in perspective, but it doesn't mean one side is lying.
@iBricking You're technically correct. Here's a reasonable definition of a backdoor as it pertains to computing: "A backdoor is a method, often secret, of bypassing normal authentication in a product, computer system, cryptosystem or algorithm etc. Backdoors are often used for securing unauthorized remote access to a computer, or obtaining access to plaintext in cryptographic systems."
In the present case, the FBI wants the same thing as a backdoor but doesn't want it to be secret. They want everyone to know what they're demanding Apple do. The end result, however, is exactly the same. They want to obtain access to a cryptographic system and they want Apple to provide the software (a hacked version of a secure cryptosystem) to do it.
I've also read the DOJ/FBI have demanded Apple's source code and coding signature if they refuse to do the programming for them. This is illegal since they're demanding confidential corporate (publicly owned!!) information and they don't have the right to demand this. No matter how they say it, the DOJ/FBI is lying when they say it would only be used once.
AG Lynch could easily demonstrate the truth of her claim that this is for "one specific case" by publicly pulling all similar cases where the government is trying to force Apple to develop cracking software -- there are NINE currently in motion, including the one in Brooklyn where they got turned down (and are appealing) and hundreds waiting. She could say publicly that the government will suspend all attempts to use the All Writs Act to bypass the Constitution, now and in the future, if they can get Apple to help them break into this one and only iPhone.
That's the deal. Think they'll take it, or do you think they will have to own up (as Director Comey has already done under oath, maybe AG Lynch should have a chat with him) to the truth at last -- that they have ZERO intention of giving up this tool after using it one time?
We're not as stupid as the government thinks we are.
Maybe not we, as in those of us here discussing the issue in this forum. But, the general American citizen? I'm not nearly as certain. And, the government by what they've been doing in this case (and even that there is a propaganda department setup to embed their messaging into sitcoms, movies, media, etc.), kind of says otherwise too.
Given a lot of stuff that his been going on in the last few years, I think the government is actually counting on the stupidity (or at least distracted nature) of the populace.
I find it interesting that "No" Lynch would go on TV to push a case against Apple. By the way, and I may have missed it in the comments, but the government already tried to access the phone via iCloud, but botched the attempt. Suddenly, Apple becomes very important particularly when Lynch is trying to establish a benchmark case. Sounds much like the environment in George Orwell's 1984, and that's coming from a conservative. Why would we, as citizens, not trust the government. Let me count a few of the ways:
1. Benghazi lies directly to the victims' families,
2. IRS targeting specific groups,
3. Hillary's "private" email server.
Perhaps if Lynch would convene a grand jury and find a "true bill" against Hillary, we might have a scintilla of evidence for some belief.
These "it's just this one phone" lies are getting increasingly annoying to me.
They've already tacitly admitted that there are around a dozen more devices that they want access to if this goes through. And then there are the 100+ that other US law enforcement agencies want, that they'll surely ask for if this goes through.
And then there's, let's say, China. If the US government gets it, why isn't China going to ask for the same thing? They know it exists, they know Apple is willing to supply it to a government giving a proper legal request, why shouldn't they get it too?
And England, and France, and Russia, and Israel, and Brazil, and Venezuela, and every other country on earth where Apple sells iPhones. What makes the US so special that Apple should only give these tools to them?
If Apple argues, yes, this was special, China, and we won't give you the same tool we provided to the US government... what's to stop China from prohibiting sales of the iPhone in the country? They can and would do something that draconian if they feel like it, which would cost Apple around $60B in revenue per year.
Or let's pretend that nobody else asks. All it takes is one person who has been paid by a foreign spy agency, or a mole, or a criminal, or just an extremist activist to steal the code from the FBI and supply it to China, or Russia, or the Russian mafia, or Iran, or North Korea, or Germany, or England, or whoever it is that's willing to pay enough for this incredibly valuable tool.
Edward Snowden has proven that it's not exactly unlikely (in addition to proving that the US government is fine using illegal surveillance even on friendly governments), and any number of people caught selling secrets to unfriendly foreign governments have proven that there's the desire and that money (or loyalty) talks in the spy game.
And it's possible nobody would even notice that this had happened, if the person didn't get caught or shop it around openly.
Sounds much like the environment in George Orwell's 1984, and that's coming from a conservative. Why would we, as citizens, not trust the government. Let me count a few of the ways ...
For sure! And, as I recommended above, once you see the insane amount of corruption going on RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN in Congress - which the mainline media doesn't even report on - you almost have to start wondering what the extent of the corruption is that they try to hide.
re: conservative - It's interesting how this is playing out in the political camps. One would think a 'conservative' would want to preserve the Constitution, while the 'liberal' might be more open to playing fast and loose with it. This particular case, and the basis for it, seems so brain-dead simple, I can hardly imagine ANYONE but the government power-mungers supporting the FBI here. (upshot: ANY politician who is supporting the FBI in this SHOULD NOT be even considered! I don't care what party you normally support.) (People always talk about one-issue voters... but when you have people who can't reason through foundational, simple stuff, I think one-issue might well be enough.)