As most of us know, (and if this is news, you should pay more attention), the Justice department sought Apple Computer’s assistance in bypassing the security encryption on an iPhone.
Not just any phone, but the phone used by the two shooters in the San Bernardino case.
The FBI contends there is probable cause to believe that the phone contains evidence related to the case, may contain names of unidentified co-conspirators, and is a matter of national security. They cannot break the encryption without Apple’s assistance.
Now at first blush, this is a no-brainer. Apple should decrypt the phone and turn over the evidence.
However, upon more contemplation, I think Apple’s position is better for our cherished freedoms.
Now, for those of you who may not know my background, I was a police officer for twenty years. Every job has it fun moments. Ours often consisted of having a search warrant in one hand and a sledgehammer in the other.
Knock, knock we are coming in. One way or the other.
Over time it was inevitable I would see abuses of this system. Warrants obtained on the flimsiest of information. Governmental fishing expeditions usually in the cause of the Holy war against drugs.
Now, that Holy war has a new cause. Terrorism.
In the cause of fighting terrorism, we have lost sight of our original founding principles.
To force Apple to defeat the encryption designed to protect personal data is to start down a road from which we cannot return. The government wants companies to design a “backdoor” into encrypted devices. A door controlled by government.
That is a frightening thought. Imagine the potential for disruption of the political process, privacy violations, and abuse.
To invoke the specter of Orwell’s 1984 has lost some of its once chilling effect. In this world 32 years after that date, it fails to convey the dire warning it once did. Yet we should keep this in mind, Orwell’s warning of “Big Brother” may have been premature, but he was not wrong.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”