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2/18/2016
01:06 PM
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Apple Vs. FBI: Tech, Politics Weigh In On iPhone Case

With a Tweet, the founder of WhiteHat Security may have nudged Google's CEO to take a side, and the rest of the world is beginning to do the same.

Where 2016 US Presidential Contenders Stand On Tech Issues
Where 2016 US Presidential Contenders Stand On Tech Issues
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

It may have been WhiteHat Security Founder Jeremiah Grossman who, with a Twitter nudge, encouraged Google CEO Sundar Pichai to express his position on the legal struggle between Apple and the FBI. The latter wants Apple help it to gain access to the iPhone of Syed Farook, who in December killed 14 colleagues at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. 

"Today would be the perfect day for Sundar Pichai (Google, CEO) to back up Tim Cook (Apple, CEO)," Grossman Tweeted early in the morning on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

An hour later, the Tweet got a boost from Edward Snowden, who re-Tweeted and added: "This is the most important tech case in a decade. Silence means @google picked a side, but it's not the public's."

At last count, Grossman's Tweet was re-Tweeted over 1,000 times and Snowden's was re-Tweeted more than 8,800 times.

(Image: Mutlu Kurtbas/iStockphoto)

(Image: Mutlu Kurtbas/iStockphoto)

About eight hours later, Pichai responded with what he later happily described as his first-ever "tweet storm":

"1/5 Important post by @tim_cook," Pichai began, referring to a message Apple posted to its site Feb. 16. "Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy

"2/5 We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism

"3/5 We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders

"4/5 But that's wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent

"5/5 Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue"

Cook also framed the issue as one for public discussion, adding, "We want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake."

Slowly, that discussion, or at least a staking out of sides, is beginning to happen.

Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum posted to Facebook: "I have always admired Tim Cook for his stance on privacy and Apple's efforts to protect user data and couldn't agree more with everything said in their Customer Letter today. We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake."

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, wrote and Tweeted a long blog post in support of Apple and Cook, describing the Internet as an important public resources and encryption as the key to a healthy Internet.

"Encryption isn't a luxury -- it's a necessity," wrote Surman.

Not everyone fully understands the issue, Surman continued, explaining that for this reason Mozilla is starting a global public education campaign:

As more and more governments propose tactics like backdoors, technology alone will not be enough. We will also need to get Mozilla's community -- and the broader public -- involved. ... If we can educate millions of Internet users about the basics of encryption and its connection to our everyday lives, we'll be in a good position to ask people to stand up when the time comes. We believe that time is coming soon in many countries around the world.

WhiteHat's Grossman also dug up and Tweeted a January article quoting AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, at Davos, speaking to whether Congress or companies should determine US policy on access to encrypted data.

"I don't think it is Silicon Valley's decision to make about whether encryption is the right thing to do," Stephenson told The Wall Street Journal. "I understand Tim Cook's decision, but I don't think it's his decision to make."

[Read Google, Apple Aim to Kill Passwords.]

Donald Trump, speaking on "Fox & Friends" on Feb. 17, took much the same approach, Business Insider reported.

"To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone?" said Trump. "Who do they think they are?"

But he wasn't the only politician speaking to the matter. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Los Angeles County, issued a Feb. 17 press release suggesting the snowball effect the FBI's demands could create.

"This court order begs the question: Where does this kind of coercion stop? Can the government force Facebook to create software that provides analytic data on who is likely to be a criminal? Can the government force Google to provide the names of all people who searched for the term ISIL?" Lieu stated in the release.

"The San Bernardino massacre was tragic but weakening our cyber security is not the answer -- terrorism succeeds when it gets us to give up our liberties and change our way of life," Lieu continued. "We can take common sense security measures without trampling on privacy rights."

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Michelle Maisto is a writer, a reader, a plotter, a cook, and a thinker whose career has revolved around food and technology. She has been, among other things, the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise Magazine, a reporter on consumer mobile products and wireless networks for ... View Full Bio

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msangha
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msangha,
User Rank: Strategist
2/25/2016 | 3:54:33 PM
Money....
This is not just about privacy and security. It is also about money. Apple sells more outside the US. They cannot afford to antagonize the rest of the world, not to mention lose ground to their competitors, by agreeing to "create" a backdoor. This guy has it right: http://bit.ly/1oKJwwT Congress is indeed AWOL.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2016 | 9:36:53 PM
Re: Good stuff
@mak63, thanks for the info. The tough part of this case will that it will drag on in the courts. That means that most people will forget about it in the popular press point of view, and the importance of it will fade.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2016 | 7:25:34 PM
Re: Good stuff
"
...I wonder what will happen if they go looking for a terrorist and find information about fraud, or a robbery. What about a non-terrorist related bank robbery that Hasn't Happened - yet? "


Good point, there are so many areas of fraud that need attention, this could be a case of missplaced effort. Something tells me if they do find other areas of "dirt" they will conveniently overlook it using the rationale that National Security out wieghts the white colar crime that goes on daily.

Of course I don't agree with this.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2016 | 7:19:11 PM
Apple, Privacy and Cook's First and Last Stand......
I have made little doubt about my feelings towards Apple in the Cook era. But I must applaud his stance regarding protecting the privacy of everyone when it comes to government interaction.

Those who argue that this" backdoor" can be protected are simply wrong.  Cook understands this and the Industry understands as well.

Did Government fail to understand the quandry implication of technology ? It looks like it, but to publically pressure Apple as it has shows that elements of the Government either do not undersand or appreciate the implications of their actions.  Not sure how this became a point of public debate but I think it is safe to say this could have been handled better.

And Yes, We all understand that fighting terrorism is a serious task, but so is personal privacy. We can do both.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2016 | 2:04:14 AM
Re: Good stuff
@Broadway0474  Yes, to the 1st question. Cases still can go to the SC. But, they can not issue any rulings if they are split 4-4. In that instance, the case goes back to the Court of Appeals and held what they've decided in the first place.
Also yes, to the 2nd question. This is a quote from LA Times:
"The case, which will be heard in the magistrate's courtroom next month, will then go before a federal district judge. Apple has until Feb. 26 to file its initial arguments in the case.
If appealed, the case will be heard by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court."
So, I guess we need to wait till the 26th, to see how the case will proceed.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2016 | 11:20:05 PM
Re: Good stuff
Can the Supreme Court act on this issue or any issue while politicians are deciding who controls the Supreme Court? But seriously, I am no lawyer, but this is a court order, not a court decision. Can you appeal a court order?
jc01480
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jc01480,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2016 | 8:31:09 PM
Matter of Law
A+ for Apple doing what the government should be doing (standing by rights and upholding the Constitution). Every LE officer in this nation swore an oath to do this. Very disturbing that the private industry has more obligation to defend rights than government. The outcome may be a pivotal moment for many things.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2016 | 1:49:24 PM
Re: Good stuff
Amen @mak63. Part of me wants to see what happens to his hair if he was President though. You noticed how it doesn't take any Prez long to go grey? God knows what would happen to Bernie. :-)

And Prez is always taking shots from somewhere, comes with territory regardless if Repub or Dem. Trump would cry, or more likely try and pass laws to create state controlled media. The only show on all cable stations would be reruns of The Apprentice. :-)
mak63
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0%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2016 | 3:02:05 AM
Re: Good stuff
Donald Trump, speaking on "Fox & Friends" on Feb. 17:
"To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone?" said Trump. "Who do they think they are?"
We are doomed if this guys is the next president.. Why is he saying "allow us", anyway?
I'm just glad that Apple is standing up against the court order. I think there's a chance that this case will go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
2/18/2016 | 11:51:06 PM
Re: Good stuff
I wonder what will happen if they go looking for a terrorist and find information about fraud, or a robbery. What about a non-terrorist related bank robbery that Hasn't Happened - yet?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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