Listen Up, Trump. You’re Wrong!

Apple vs. FBI

You’re a smart guy, Donald, but you’re wrong. 

Apple should NOT be forced into creating a backdoor hack to unlock an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.  It is also utterly ridiculous to encourage a boycott of all Apple products until they do so.

It would be an interesting exchange between myself and Trump regarding this particular issue – both of us being strong, determined type-A personalities.

I normally try to avoid political discussions except with very close friends, but this issue strikes at the heart of the IT industry.

For those unfamiliar, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 others on December 2 when they carried out a homegrown terrorist attack at a holiday party of San Bernardino employees. 

The FBI recovered an iPhone used by the shooters, but could not access its contents due to the phone’s advanced security features and encryption.

The FBI then reached out to Apple, asking them to create a new version of the phone’s operating system that could bypass the security features.  Apple refused.
Unhappy at being told no, the FBI convinced a judge to order Apple to create the requested software.  Apple has chosen to fight back.

Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the company’s rationale in a very clear, well-written letter.  (The letter can be read in its entirety at http://www.apple.com/customer-letter.)

While the terroristic murders were dastardly and while our government should do everything in its legal power to protect us from such attacks, much more is at stake than simply cracking open one person’s iPhone.

Not only is it an overreach of our government’s authority, but it would open the door for foreign governments and regimes to demand access to private, personal information you and I store on our electronic devices.

It’s one thing to require a company to legally hand over information they already have.  Such as a subpoena to a cell phone carrier for call logs and chat transcripts.

It’s something quite different to force a company to make an entirely new product.  At the company’s expense.  With questionable long-term ramifications. 

The government’s demand could open the door to all sorts of secret monitoring.  As Tim Cook wrote, “The government could … demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

Building such a backdoor also opens a huge security hole that hackers, virus writers, and even terrorists could use to obtain the same information – again, without your knowledge or consent.

Our online security is already exceedingly difficult to maintain.  We don’t to increase the risk.

So back to Trump.  How do you think he would respond to this scenario? 

In 2008, the Industrial and Commerce Bank of China signed a deal to occupy the 20th floor of his iconic tower at 725 Fifth Avenue in New York.

The Chinese, according to our government, masterminded a cyber-attack in early 2015, compromising personal information of millions of US government employees.

While the bank had no involvement in the cyber-attack, it could be theoretically possible some of the hackers maintain financial accounts there or funneled money through the bank.

Shouldn’t the government force Trump, at his own cost, to develop and install custom, not-currently-available surveillance equipment to monitor phone calls, computer transmissions, and financial transactions conducted within the bank’s leased area and give the Feds access to collected information?  After all, our national security could be at risk. 

I dare say the Donald would vehemently refuse to comply.  In which case, should we boycott all of Trump’s hotels, resorts, and clothing lines?

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Now to sit back and wait for the Donald to thrash me on social media!

Scott Hartley, President/CEO

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