Good reasons to fear a Pandora's iPhone
In 1968, the Beatles advised, “Honey, disconnect the phone,” in their song, “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Fast-forward to 2016, and more people might follow that advice if the FBI gets its way and forces Apple to create software to “hack” the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
Local law enforcement also seeks similar powers. “Sacramento-area law enforcement agencies are sitting on scores of powerfully encrypted iPhones they can’t mine for information on a variety of crimes,” reported the Sacramento Bee. “They’re closely watching the fight between Apple and the FBI.”
And, according to the Associated Press, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos “offered an unusual justification for forcing Apple to help hack” the shooter’s iPhone — that it “might have been ‘used as a weapon’ to introduce malicious software to county computer systems.” The shooter’s iPhone was issued by San Bernardino County, where he worked as a health inspector.
Computer security experts scoff at that possibility. But Ramos’ contention illustrates how breaches of basic rights can quickly expand.
There are other examples. The 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was intended to fight organized crime. But, according to Daniel Fischel, former dean of the University of Chicago School of Law, RICO also got rid of the traditional right “to be innocent and face punishment only after conviction” and allowed “the government to seize entire businesses connected even indirectly with a defendant at the time of indictment, before any proof of guilt.”
The 2001 USA Patriot Act was intended to fight terrorism. But, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of national security letters, a majority against U.S. persons, and many without any connection to terrorism at all.”
The government has demonstrated why Americans should be cautious about granting it expanded powers, and law enforcement has plenty of other resources to investigate crimes. The Obama administration and the FBI should stop harassing Apple.
Reprinted from the Orange County Register
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