Opening the Orwellian Pandora Box

I have been trying to figure out which sci-fi movie plot centred around the bad guys stealing all powerful encryption key to destroy free civilization since I heard about the FBI’s move to force Apple to provide a master key to de-crypt iPhone data,  but have drawn a blank.  I guess it doesn’t really matter as I can take my pick right.

In case you don’t know what I am talking about, here is a quick summary of what is going on before I go into why this is a nightmare of Orwellian proportions.

Apple Encryption Technology & the San Bernardino Case

Back in 2014, Apple re-engineered their software with “full disk” encryption which meant that even Apple couldn’t unlock the encrypted data in products they had sold. Which means that no government body (law enforcement or otherwise) could force Apple to unlock a person’s iPhone data as they don’t have the means to do so.

Fast forward to today, the FBI has been working on the San Bernardino Case & have been unable to access the data on Farook’s iPhone, even after going to Apple for help.  So what does the FBI decided to do?  They decide to use the All Writs Act of 1789, which basically gives the US government the authority to issue orders that are not covered by the law, to force Apple to do what the FBI asks them.

The terrifying part in this situation is that Apple is claiming that the US Government is in essence forcing them to create a master encryption key, one which would have dangerous consequences to individuals privacy & rights.

But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession

Apple, Message to Our Customers
February 16, 2016

1984_by_datonelOpening the Orwellian Pandora Box

“Orwellian” is an adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society.

Apple rightly is raising alarms about this.  This is not about 1 phone used by a terrorists. Once the technology exists to break the security of an iPhone it will be used & it will be used as a preventative measure.


“But what about the Terrorists !!”

What about them?  Once they know there is a master encryption key they will change their tactics & methods of communication.  Or worse yet, they will get access to the encryption key & use it themselves.

Even if the FBI accessed Farook’s iPhone, it will not stop ISIS or any other terrorist group from planning & successfully executing attacks.   Why? Because their goal is to destroy society & they don’t have anything to lose.  They are willing to die for their cause.

“This is a US Problem, why do you care?”

Because I own an iPhone & this is not a America-only problem.  The existence of a piece of technology that can enable anyone to hack into my phone’s data remotely, is a global issue.

“But, if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about!” 

Okay, so let’s assume I as a law abiding citizen in Canada am safe.  But, what about all of those activists in countries that are fighting against oppressive governments?  Activists who are using their phones to communicate with others & spread their message?  Who live in countries where the government has complete power to use whatever means to control their citizens?  Have you considered what is going to happen to them once this technology is out?

Final Thoughts

As someone commented on an article about this, “privacy is the cornerstone of democracy,” & by giving up it up would result in us losing the free & open society we live in.  Which will hurt us more than the “terrorists” as we will help them to accomplish their goals.

We stand to lose more than we stand to gain.


Image Source:
1984 by Datonel



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