Snippet: The Problem with Back Doors ☇

Shared on January 15, 2020

David Sparks:

Apple has landed in the soup again with the U.S. Justice Department over its inability (or refusal?) to give access to the Pensacola shooter’s phone. This is a similar issue to that faced with the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone a few years ago. Apple makes the iPhone with the intention of securing user data, even from Apple itself. There is an ongoing cat and mouse game where hackers find vulnerabilities and Apple plugs them but the goal, on Apple’s end at least, is that the only people who see what’s on your iPhone is you. […]

I don’t believe this is something where we just go along with the government’s desire for yet another privacy invasion for all of us. Such a back door in the hands of a bad actor, or an oppressive state, is something I don’t want to think about too long. Furthermore, if such a back door were installed, the terrorists and sophisticated criminals would simply move to some other platform and still have secured communications and data, while the rest of us no longer do.

I sympathize with law enforcement for wanting access to this data. I worked briefly in the criminal justice system and I know how maddening it would be to know you have a magic envelope with evidence in it and no way to open that envelope. I just think the sacrifice involved with creating a back door is too much to ask.

I haven’t wanted to link to anything about this, not because I don’t care or think it is important, but there is already a lot of coverage. I feel like the argument for back doors is a threat to privacy, security, and freedom for the sake of catching the boogeyman. From there, I start thinking of all the ways this could be abused and data breaches caused by inept developers seem trivial. Sparks has a level-headed analysis on the matter, and the whole piece is worth a read.

The whole thing is obviously not about unlocking a few select iPhones, but turning public opinion. As Sparks mentioned, if this avenue dries up, those doing illegal things would probably move to another platform or system, leaving us with crippled devices. Just as in the past, the risk/reward argument doesn’t seem to come into play for those who want a master key into our lives.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.