BRT discussed the Apple/FBI issue in depth in The Answer is No, a piece articulating, in part, how the FBI screwed the pooch in terms of changing passwords twice in disregarding Apple's advice in terms of working with the iPhone vis a vis iCloud, the service that can force the iPhone to dump its data if the password is NOT changed. With this in mind, Monday Note weighs in with a cautionary tale as to why a slippery slope looms if the FBI gets its way.
OK, Apple. You know the key that will get an iPhone (any iPhone, mark those words) to accept an iOS image. So, write a firmware update that bypasses the passcode lockout. We’ll bring the iPhone 5c to your offices so your own engineers can “update” the device. All we ask is that you give us a remote connection — while the device is still under your control — so we can keep guessing the passcode. It’s only four digits, 10,000 attempts, tops. [If you’re interested in the odds of crypto-guessing, see the addendum.]
Assuming Apple can trump (I had to do it) the security check, why would it refuse to cooperate? It’s for an indisputably good cause and it’s just for this one phone, you know?
The problem is one of consequences, of what comes next on this road paved with good intentions. If Apple gives in for just this one phone, there will be requests for more…and more. Of course, they’ll all be in the interest of solving the most abominable crimes, or for thwarting credible threats. How can anyone be against fighting terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles…?
Further down the road, other countries see that Apple has cried uncle and demand the same access. Will these foreign demands be as “enlightened” as those from our (not so) trusted US agencies?
When taken in conjunction with what the NSA/CIA/FBI, and significant others, do in capturing ALL OF OUR DATA 24/7, one readily sees Apple's encrypted smartphone data to be the last bastion of privacy we have on planet earth. (Google's jumping in on this as well.)
Extending this notion further regarding our civil rights, yours truly just saw Citizenfour, the engrossing documentary on Edwin Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. In it was the astounding revelation that not only can the NSA track and capture ALL digital & analog traffic in the US but that said data is immediately retrievable by simply accessing an e-mail address, a CC number or a person's telephone number due to the environment's unique ability to link all the skeins of content relating to the specific search item in question and packaging it in such a way that any intelligent person versed in information technology can easily understand. Even more disquieting, according to Snowden, is the use of predictive analytics to ascertain what the targeted party may do in any given situation, whether it's in the present day or in the future, thanks to the singular leveraging of metadata in ways only techs at the NSA can understand.
In an April 5th, 1887 letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton, Lord Acton coined words that were to be widely quoted – and too often forgotten when inconvenient [as always, edits and emphasis mine]:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. […] still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.“