If it wasn’t for the whistle-blowing NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we would likely never know the extent in which governments invade privacy in order to protect national security.
And there’s really no doubting that government agencies like the FBI are trying to catch the bad guys. But with practically no oversight and regulations against them, it’s only natural that unlimited power will eventually be abused.
But since Snowden’s revelations regarding the U.S. government’s surveillance of its own citizens in 2013, privacy has at least entered national consciousness. This is the digital age, where technology is advancing at an exceptional pace, and the means in which governments can track us are becoming more and more intrusive.
At the same time, terrorism is still a significant threat, and if advanced technology can be used to thwart potential attacks on our country, why not use it?
The fundamental question has become this: how much of our privacy are we willing to sacrifice in order to allow our government free rein to track suspicious behavior? Is there a limit?
If you ask Apple CEO Tim Cook, the answer is yes.
The company on Tuesday rejected a federal court order to essentially create a universal backdoor method that could unlock every iPhone and divulge all of the information inside of. The FBI wants it so they could unlock the phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
Why Apple is so adamant about refusing this order is because they purposely created their latest operating systems with encryption that couldn’t be unlocked. No such method exists to universally unlock every iPhone, a policy Apple instituted to protect consumer privacy.
The creation of a universal “skeleton key,” Apple insists, would not only give its wielder the potential to unlock any phone at will, but also presents the risk of it falling into the hands of international hackers.
Which is exactly the reason why Apple never created one.
The FBI claims that it would only be used on a one-time basis — a notion that Apple says is impossible to guarantee; once the knowledge of how to unlock every phone exists, it can never be erased, they say.
It’s truly a complicated issue, one in which you can understand both sides of the argument, and may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. Which, in turn, would make it a truly landmark case that could set the standard for privacy moving forward.
Snowden, meanwhile, made his stance perfectly clear, calling this the most “important
tech case in a decade.” As did Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who also expressed his support for Apple (although somewhat belatedly).
Unfortunately, I still don’t think this is enough to pique the average person’s interest — at least not for more than a few days. And the reason is simple: people understand the importance of privacy, and would never want their own personal information to be made accessible, but yet, they refuse to believe that they are seriously at risk.
Who in the world would want my information, is what most people ask.
And they’re not wrong. No one probably does. But the moment we surrender the desire to protect our privacy is the moment it ceases to exist. And by extension of that, we also surrender a bit of our freedom.
… says the guy who has detailed his life and thoughts in a blog almost every day for more than six years.
I’ll shut up now.