Some Thoughts on Apple v FBI

I’ve held off writing about the case where a court has ordered Apple to develop software to break into an iPhone 5c used by a terrorist. You can read about this on thousands of websites, so I won’t go into detail here. But I do have a few thoughts I wanted to toss out for consideration.

  • Tech journalists should not write about legal issues without consulting with attorneys. I’ve seen lots of articles, and heard some podcasts, that address legal questions with little or no legal knowledge, and that offer information that is simply wrong, and proven so shortly after editors have clicked Publish. Get some lawyers to explain things to you, or don’t talk about the law.
  • Take a deep breath and think carefully each time you read a new article about this case. Information has been released that is biased and incorrect, only to be corrected the next day. It’s best to take a long view of this issue, not to believe anything you read today.
  • Do read what real computer security experts have to say about this. Especially regarding the consequences of this case for the future. (You might want to read what Christopher Soghoian has written…)
  • Remember, both Apple and the FBI are spinning this case. They both have agendas.
  • I wonder what will happen if Apple is held in contempt of court. Is Tim Cook willing to go to jail for this issue?

This looks like an issue that won’t be easily resolved. There will be lots of articles and opinions on this issue. I don’t know enough about the law to offer my own, though I strongly believe that what the FBI is asking would open the door to potential abuse.

One final point:

  • Does the US government really want their elected officials, employees, agents, and citizens to carry around communication devices that have known backdoors when they are in other countries? Because unless the CIA is building their own smartphones, this is what the world would be like if backdoors were required. Other governments would potentially be able to access information on devices owned by US citizens, as well as their own.