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OP/ED: Apple CEO Cook Protecting Terrorists for the Sake of Privacy

By Brian Hews
HMG-CN Publisher

CEO Tim Cook. Twitter picture.

CEO Tim Cook. Twitter picture.

A huge battle is brewing between the federal government and what people are calling the “flag bearer of the technological world,” Apple Incorporated.

Apple’s chief executive said Wednesday that the company would fight a federal court order demanding they help unlock the iPhone 5 of Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernardino terrorist who killed 14 people in cold-blood last year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “it would set a dangerous precedent and could compromise security for billions of customers.”

What Cook is saying is that Apple doesn’t want you to know what they already know. Worse, they don’t want federal investigators to know what Apple already knows; that is, that they know everything you do on your phone.

The case will likely be fast-tracked to the United States Supreme Court and be a seminal moment in privacy and civil liberty against data access.

Regardless, federal investigators should be allowed access to the phone.

What is the difference between investigators obtaining a search warrant to search your house and investigators accessing your iPhone?

Apple and Cook are trying to hide behind the veil of “privacy to protect consumers.” More like covering up what they already know.

Just one year ago anyone could access iPhone data encryption, in 2014 Apple put in the Edward Snowden inspired passcode lock system to prevent that.

That system is blocking federal investigators from gaining access to Farook’s iPhone. It has a built in erase mechanism if the pass code is entered incorrectly 10 times, wham, data gone.

Investigators are being denied access to the iPhone’s location system that tells Apple, and its affiliates, everywhere you go. Farook’s iPhone likely has these location points, which could be valuable in the investigation.

But Apple does not want investigators to know what they already know, or consumers for that matter.

iPhones also have their own individual identification numbers with abbreviations IMEI and MEID.

IMEI is the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity used by a network to identify valid devices. MEID stands for Mobile Equipment Identifier and is a unique identifier for a mobile device.

Information is tagged with those identifications and can easily be retrieved from servers. The numbers could be used to access information on Farook’s phone and provide investigators valuable information about the attack.

The government has asked Apple to write a program to unlock the phone so it would not be erased after 10 tries, the phone must be in their possession, so any idea of the government hacking a phone without possession is ridiculous.

But Cook says no to a simple request calling it a dangerous precedent.

And, belying how his own company gathers data on customers, Cook said, “The government may argue that its use would be limited, but there’s no way to guarantee such control.”

Interesting this coming for the CEO of a company (along with Google) that allow apps to be sold through their stores that gives anybody the ability to make anonymous phone calls to harass people with no way to trace back where the calls are coming from.

There is legislation in California that will demand any phone sold here will be able to be unlocked if a search warrant is granted. Good for state lawmakers, but we all know the tech companies and security firms will lobby against that, so the only way to get a law passed would be through the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile Cook spews his rhetoric about privacy and would probably lead the fight to defeat the legislation.

To Mr. Cook I have a hypothetical situation for you to consider.

Let us imagine (God forbid) another attack in California and over 100 people were killed, but this time the terrorist did not lock his iPhone.

Federal investigators hack into the phone and discover that the terrorist knew San Bernardino terrorist Farook and that if investigators were able to hack into Farook’s phone, they would have prevented these killings.

I wonder how Cook would react to that hypothetical.

Cook is also ignoring a number of people with his duplicitous privacy argument. The relatives of the 14 people who were murdered in cold blood in San Bernardino would certainly want Farook’s phone unlocked.

  • In 2011, Apple was sued for privacy invasion alleging the iPhone tracking users location. In 2014, Apples iOS and Yosemite reportedly set by default to send your search terms, on Safari,back to Apple. Disabling the feature was said to be difficult. Last year, the Federal Government pointed out to the court that under User License Agreement Apple owns the source code and Apple can be compelled to help unlock the phone.

    Basically, what Apple is saying is that if someone stuffs a body in a storage room and locks the door that the courts cannot order the owner of the building to unlock the door. As such, Apple must consider their iPhone a “get out of jail, free card for criminals.

  • ABC Parent says:

    Our students are forced to give up their privacy via school records and apple protects the privacy of terrorist?

    Where is the common sense?