Monday, February 29, 2016

Apple is not above the court's order

A retired general friend made a statement about security and freedom that really grabbed my attention.
We were in a government meeting and he made this point: The more secure we want to be, the more freedom we give away.
It makes sense. Either we rely on ourselves and be free or we rely on the government and give up some of our freedom. 
I have been watching the fight between Apple and the government over retrieving information on a terrorist’s iPhone with great interest. I have hesitated to weigh in because of the technical issues with the iPhone which I don’t understand, but after hearing Apple CEO Tim Cook expound on ABC-TV about the issue, I feel I must. 
It’s not a technical issue at all. It’s about our desire to be secure and our desire for privacy. 
Cook’s point seems to be that if Apple writes the bit of code needed to open that one iPhone, it will be like inserting “cancer” (his word) into an Apple product. 
Now, aside from being offended at his choice of words (which I was), the issue is this: Do we not have search and seizure laws in place? 
Before police can search my home or car, a judge has to issue a search warrant. 
A judge has issued a ruling that Apple cooperate with the government and provide a means for the content of that phone to be known to law enforcement officials. It is no different than a judge issuing a search warrant. 
An FBI official has said the government does not want a code so they can run about, willy-nilly, searching people’s phones. They want the ability to get a search warrant and find out what suspected criminals are doing on their phones. 
I understand the problem. The government has eavesdropped on thousands of people, finding out what numbers they were calling or receiving calls from. Bad news. 
But this is completely different. 
I am just as concerned about Cook’s attitude that Apple is so big it can thumb its nose at the courts as I am concerned about personal freedom and unreasonable search and seizure. 

If we want to be secure, then we have to live under the rule of law.